July 05, 2004 12:00 PM

By Eleanor Herman

What can kindling a king’s loins do for a girl’s place in the world? According to this diverting history, less than you’d think. Some who bedded the likes of Louis XV and George II were simply long-suffering ladies, waiting for His Highness to call. (Guys, you know?) Mistresses like Barbara Palmer, though, were empowered badasses who planned ahead—hoarding baubles, having babies—and landed titles. Herman, an ex-magazine editor who adores all things royal, breaks no news here, but you’ll come away with new perspective on Camilla Parker Bowles.


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