In a Treacherous Court (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, #1)
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In a Treacherous Court (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker #1)

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  520 ratings  ·  111 reviews
An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire. . . . 1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are...more
Paperback, 301 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster
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Community Reviews

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Jenny Q
Well, I was really taken in by the description and the handful of glowing reviews. I was expecting a new high-quality romantic historical mystery series set amidst the dangerous court of Henry VIII, but this reads like a really bad self-pubbed romance. No subtlety, no finesse. For the first three chapters the characters have done nothing but admire each other while dodging flaming arrows. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

The light gleamed fine brandy off her hair.

She shook her head again and
To: Readers & Friends
Subject: A sad discovery in the midst of a gold-mine

In a Treacherous Court was a gold-mine for my Tudor-fiction-loving-self. It had an incredible plot. Absolutely brilliant. Fast-paced. Captivating. I loved this plot so much.
In a Treacherous Court- unfortunately- had horrible character development. I got the impression the author was simply working her hardest at getting her characters to a point in the story where they knew each other just well enough for her to throw...more
Edie Ramer
In a Treacherous Court has everything. Suspense, royalty, intrigue, fantastic characters, great writing and a great love story. It's based on people who actually lived, and the author brought Henry VIII and his court to life. As I read it, I had the feeling that it really could have happened. I had chills.

I've fallen in love with John Parker, Henry's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King's Robes. One of the best heroes ever. Susanna Horenbout, who was likely the king's arti...more
SOS Aloha
I loved the first two seasons of Showtime's THE TUDORS . Despite its historcial inaccuracies, it was a visual treat with the ornate costumes, beautiful music, and hunky nobleman (especially Henry Cavrill). Yet I have never read any historical fiction from the Tudor era, fearing that the complicated alliances and heavy "ye old" language would distract me from the story.

Michelle Diener's IN A TREACHEROUS COURT cured me of those fears.

Diener delivers an intriguing tale based on two real people fro...more
Misty Rayburn
Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent by her father from Belgium to the court of Henry VIII to be his personal illuminator. When she arrives, there is an attempt made on her life and John Parker, the King’s yeomen of the crossbows is charged with keeping her safe. When further attempts are made, they realize that Susanna unknowingly carries the key to a plot against the throne. While Richard de la Pole prepares for invasion, a traitor sets a plan into motion to destroy the kingdom from within. Can Pa...more
Olga Godim
The reviews for this book are divided between 5 stars and 1 star, and so is my opinion. I don’t think it’s a bad novel, but it’s not outstanding either. The story is a historical romantic adventure in the court of young Henry VIII, and the setting alone provides conflict aplenty. It seems that everyone betrays everyone else in that court, so the title is apt. Into that pit of treachery fate throws a young artist Susanna, who arrives from the Netherlands to become the king’s illuminator. Enmeshed...more
Stephanie ♥Loves Adrian Ivashkov♥
I received this wonderful book for review. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Michelle Diener! :D
My love for historical novels has been reawakened for sure now! I love anything hystorical, from ancient Egypt to 19th century London. Well, this book was about the time of Henry VIII in 1525. I've always loved anything that has to do with the Tudors and this book has left me even more interested in it. This book was extra special to me because ths book is about artist Susanna Horenbout, a Flemish pain...more
Rick F.
"An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire. . . . 1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richar...more
I heard of this book via a blog about historical undergarments and romance writing, of all places, and it sounded interesting so I picked it up yesterday after it was released. The story is set in the early part of King Henry VIII's reign, when he's still married to Katherine but before he takes up with Anne Boleyn. The story is anchored by historical figures Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, who did exist and were married, though not much other information about them survives. The author does...more
Full review to be posted soon:

I rarely read mysteries but I do love this setting and time period. Susanna and Parker were fantastic characters and I loved how unconventional they were compared to the courtiers and nobles in the royal court of King Henry the 8th. Parker being a self made man who went up the ranks to the King's yeoman and Susanna being a court artist and illuminator, added a different dimension to the usual roles I have read and it was interesting to note they were based on real p...more
One of the most awesome aspects of being a book blogger are all the awesome titles you’re introduced to by publishers, authors, and other readers. I was recently sent a copy of In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener due to my interest in all things relating to the Tudor period. Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl gets the credit for my introduction into that period of British history. That being said, I was excited to see what Diener had in store from this fascinating time period.

Joan{missing the vampire bunny slippers!}
I don't have much to say about this book.
I loved the writing style and the flow of the story didn't get tiring or stifled. The characters were very well developed and complex enough for me to have nothing to bitch about and the intrigue and plot twists were plenty. :)
I 've always loved reading about this period in history and I have always been intrigued by the amount of back-stabbing and plotting that was going on under the table! That was the main reason I picked up this book and though I can'...more
I didn't like In a Treacherous Court as much as I expected to and I'm not sure that I'm going to read the next installments.

Although I liked the main characters, I couldn't really feel a connection with them and even thought the book is supposed to be more a mystery than a romance, the way their relationship develops felt far too forced to me.

Also, I had hoped the plot would keep my attention for at least a couple of hours, but that didn't really happen, and even though some people may like it,...more
Therese Walsh
I don't read many historical suspense novels, but this one had me riveted. I loved the way author Michelle Diener used real details from two lesser historical figures to create this novel's fast-paced plot, and respected the way she treated those details; if she happened upon a fact that countered any piece of her tale, she revised her tale not history. Brilliant.

Awesome! History woven flawlessly into riveting fiction.

For a complete review, visit Affaire de Coeur magazine, hard copy or online - - August 2011 issue.
Blodeuedd Finland
My thoughts:

It is always interesting to read about real people in history that are relatively unknown. Susanna and John did live and meet. But all the intrigues made up around this story are the works of imagination, perhaps and who knows.

This book is a nice mix of romance and intrigue. Susanna is sent to the court as a painter until her brother gets there, but she is a good artist on her own (though sadly nothing seems to be left of her work, we have only 2nd story sources). There she gets invo...more
Amy R
This was my first book by Michelle Diener and my first historical romance. To be honest, I was not sure if I would like it. I always shied away from historical romance because growing up, I hated learning about history and I hated the books we had to read in English class. I just couldn’t follow them with their weird language. I wasn’t sure if I would have the same feelings with historical romance. However, I recently have been made aware of some books that sound interesting and this was one of...more

3.5 stars


John Parker, courtier to King Henry VIII waits at Dover to escort the King's new artist/painter back to London. Parker - King's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the Crossbows - is not impressed, his real reason for being in Dover is to collect a shipment of new Italian crossbows. Susanna Horenbout is the Belgium painter, sent by her famous father, also a painter, to the court of England's King.

The ship has been diverted to Deal in Kent. There's been a death on boa...more
Diana Leigh
Rating: 3.75/5

IN A TREACHEROUS COURT is Michelle Diener's exciting debut novel. The story is set in the court of Henry VIII when he was still married to his first wife Catherine of Aragon. John Parker, one of the king's most trusted and loyal courtiers, is sent to meet the king's new court painter arriving by ship from the Netherlands. He is surprised to learn that the Flemish artist is a young woman named Susanna Horenbout, and that she was the witness to the murder of a spy. The secret message...more
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What a wonderful story! The Tudors period is fascinating and I never get tired of reading about it. There is something intriguing about the court and tension.

John Parker is waiting for the personal illuminator for Henry VIII. Instead of the stinking, arrogant man he expects, Susanna arrives and she brings a lot of trouble. A man died on board and he gave her some valuable information she must deliver to the king. People are willing to kill her...more
Author Michelle Diener bursts onto the historical fiction scene with an exciting and wonderfully-written read about a virtually unknown woman from Tudor-era England. Her name is Susanna Horenbout, a young woman who is sent the court of Henry VIII from Belgium to serve as the king's personal illuminator. After an attempt is made on Susanna's life, she is put in the care of courtier John Parker, who she eventually develops feelings for. But, of course, their romance isn't that simple. After discov...more
Donnell Bell
N A TREACHEROUS COURT combines the lives of a Flemish painter, Mistress Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, the King's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and his Yeoman of the Crossbows, one of Henry VIII's most trusted courtiers, or perhaps more simply, he's the "King's Man."

Susanna comes from a family of illuminators, studied under her father who painted for Margaret of Austria, and though equally talented, has lived in the shadow of her brother, Lucas. Until her father allows her to travel to...more
N.R. Tomasheski
The adventure and action are the main focus of this novel, just like I like it. The romance never detracts from the forward momentum of the story, and it rolls out naturally, never feeling forced.

The period is nicely evoked with little details, and the each character is a distinctive personality.
The well-known historical figures are somewhat less fleshed out, which works well because it reduces the temptation to debate points of fact.

Diener's writing style impressed me. She's a master of "show,...more
Pamela Mingle
If you love intrigue in Henry VIII's court, historical mysteries, and romance, you'll love this story by Michelle Diener. Susanna Horenbout arrives in England from The Netherlands to be an illuminator for the king; the king's Master of Swords, John Parker, greets her just as a plot to take her life is set in motion. The stage is set for the love between them, and their attempt to get at the heart of the threat, which is ultimately directed at the king. It was interesting to note that the two mai...more
Rachel Larow
Never having actually read a bodice-ripper, this is as close as I'd like to come. I will never recommend a book with explicit sex scenes, thus I will never recommend this one.

Aside from the dirtiness the characters weren't particularly likeable, the plot was a bit difficult to follow (though I'd attribute that more to a huge cast of characters who were difficult to keep straight), and the unending number of attacks against the heroine grew old quite quickly. In short, a lot less historical, a l...more
** 4 ½ stars **

Please visit my blog for my full review:

Awesome debut novel from Michelle Diener! Set in the court of Henry VIII this nail-biting, page-turning suspense filled thriller is packed with assassination attempts, political plots and court intrigue. IN A TREACHEROUS COURT is an exciting blend of historical fiction, mystery, adventure, suspense and romance.
Jenny Schwartz
When I read historical romance it tends to be twentieth century or regency...what have I been missing!

In A Treacherous Court is as vivid and enthralling as the wonderful fantasies of Patricia Wrede and Patricia Briggs. The characters are likeable yet complicated, the conflict, even more complicated!

The cover of the book is gorgeously detailed, lush and evocative. So are the words inside. What more can I say? Read it. I'll be re-reading it :)
Fred Rauch
King Henry VIII sends to Ghent for a court artist. What he gets surprises all - a female. His reaction is similar to Henry I's reaction in Mistress of the Art of Death by the late Ariana Franklin. Women are not coroners nor are they artists. The man he has sent to Dover to get her, John Parker, discovers that not only is she talented but she is beautiful. Parker is smitten. Susanna Horenbout knows something that is causing people to want to kill her. Parker decides that he must guard her at all...more
The facts in this story are true. The way they came about...who knows? Heroine is a portrait painter sent to the English court. Hero is the king's ally and deadly supporter, and has been put in charge of the heroine's safety. A mystery pops up--involving a traitor to the king--and the hero and heroine must resolve it. This story moves fast and furious, and is a good, interesting read. I liked it a lot.
She's a beautiful Belgian painter sent to England to paint for the king. He's a handsome, non-courtly courtier and loyal royal spymaster. Together, they fight crime!

I wanted to like this more because I like the idea of the crime-flighting couple in Henry's court. Alas, they're...boring. I might read the next one, just to be sure.
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ARC giveaway 1 14 Apr 08, 2011 05:06PM  
  • To Serve a King
  • Three Maids for a Crown: A Novel of the Grey Sisters
  • The Tudor Throne
  • The Tudor Secret (The Spymaster Chronicles, #1)
  • The Sumerton Women
  • The Queen's Secret
  • Young Bess (Elizabeth Trilogy, #1)
  • Pale Rose of England
  • At the Mercy of the Queen: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
  • The Favored Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII's Third Wife
  • Her Mother's Daughter: A Novel of Queen Mary Tudor
  • I, Jane (In the Court of Henry VIII, #4)
  • To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Ladies in Waiting, #1)
  • The Girl in the Mirror
  • Mistress of Mourning
  • Her Highness, the Traitor
  • The Queen's Lady (Thornleigh, #1)
  • To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine
Michelle Diener writes historical fiction and fantasy. Her Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series includes IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS and IN DEFENSE OF THE QUEEN. Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry’s Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King’s Robes, John Parker.

Other historic...more
More about Michelle Diener...
The Emperor's Conspiracy Keeper of the King's Secrets  (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, #2) Banquet of Lies A Dangerous Madness Mistress of the Wind

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