The newest installment of Barbara Kyle’s Thornleigh series, The Queen’s Gamble, is a great historical mystery novel set in the early reign of Elizabet...moreThe newest installment of Barbara Kyle’s Thornleigh series, The Queen’s Gamble, is a great historical mystery novel set in the early reign of Elizabeth I. Readers meet up again with the Thornleigh family, but this time it’s the Thornleigh’s daughter, Isabel, and their son-in-law, Carlos, who are in the spotlight. Isabel has been blackmailed by the queen into aiding the rebels in Scotland who are fighting the French (and thus keeping them too busy to invade England) and her husband, Carlos, is called upon by duty to assist his lord, the French king. Spouses now find themselves on either side of a war neither of them wants and their small family is now at the mercy of a queen who will do anything to save her country. Beyond the religious strife running rampant through England and the threat of an invading French army, there is also inner-conflict within the Thornleigh family that makes for some interesting reading!
This is my second foray into the Thornleigh series and I have found both books to be really enjoyable. All four novels can be read as stand-alone novels, and while I don't feel I missed anything with not reading the first two books, I still wish that I had more knowledge on the background of the characters.
Historical mysteries are great escape reads for me, fictional characters set during real historical events, and Kyle has a real talent for writing page-turning action. All in all, I found The Queen’s Gamble to be a fun and entertaining read, jam packed with intrigue and adventure and I am looking forward to the next book in the series! (less)
I am a huge fan of C.W. Gortner’s The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and The Last Queen and so when the opportunity to review The Tudor Secret cam...moreI am a huge fan of C.W. Gortner’s The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and The Last Queen and so when the opportunity to review The Tudor Secret came my way, I quickly seized it! And I was not disappointed!
As a newborn babe Brendan Prescott was abandoned on the grounds of the powerful Dudley family. Taken in and raised at Dudley Castle, Brendan is tormented daily by the Dudley brothers, in particular the handsome, yet arrogant Robert. As the book opens, we find Brendan riding towards the court of Edward VI, where John Dudley is Lord Protector, to begin his service as squire to his old adversary Robert. Not long after coming to court, Brendan is solicited by William Cecil to assist in uncovering a plot against the Princess Elizabeth, which they believe is lead by the ambitious Dudley family. While unearthing secrets at court, Brendan is hoping to find answers to his own mystery…the identity of his parents and the truth behind his birth.
The Tudor Secret was a quick, light read with an entertaining mystery within a mystery. Brendan is a very charming character, as are his sidekicks Kate, the feisty lady-in-waiting and young Peregrine, stable boy turned spy’s assistant, I just adored! Though it wasn’t as historically heavy as Gortner’s other two novels, The Tudor Secret is nonetheless an entertaining and fun read and I am very much looking forward to the next book in the series.
Inspired by the Robert Browning poem titled The Last Duchess, author Elizabeth Loupas gives her own rendition of the mystery behind the death of Lucre...moreInspired by the Robert Browning poem titled The Last Duchess, author Elizabeth Loupas gives her own rendition of the mystery behind the death of Lucrezia d’Medici, rumored to have been murdered by her husband, the Duke of Ferrera in The Second Duchess.
For Barbara of Austria marriage to the duke and at last having a court of her own was a dream come true. However, the dream fades as she is immediately bombarded upon her arrival with the whisperings and rumors of court gossip about the mysterious death of her predecessor, the beautiful and young Lucrezia d’Medici. Naturally inquisitive, Barbara’s interest has been piqued and makes it her mission to find out what exactly happened to the first duchess despite the duke’s profound command that she cease the investigation. Not content to let the matter drop Barbara continues to ask questions and in return gains many enemies who will do anything to keep their secret hidden forever.
Though mostly told by Barbara, the author also gives Lucrezia a voice, something I really liked because it gives the reader both sides of the story. From her place in between the world of the living and the afterlife, she gives commentary and reminisces on when she was duchess and her relationship with the duke.
All in all, I found The Second Duchess to be an enticing read that kept me guessing until the end. The mysterious death of the audacious, yet misguided first Duchess of Ferrera is indeed an intriguing one and I look forward to more by Elizabeth Loupas!(less)
Author Donna Russo Morin brings intrigue to the court of King Francois I of France in her third historical novel, To Serve a King.
Young Genevieve’s l...moreAuthor Donna Russo Morin brings intrigue to the court of King Francois I of France in her third historical novel, To Serve a King.
Young Genevieve’s life changes when her parents are killed in a fire at the Field of the Cloth of Gold and King Henry VIII decides she is to be reborn as a spy, his own “beautiful weapon”. Raised in seclusion, by a cold and callous woman she knows as her aunt, Genevieve is taught how to decipher messages, weaponry and languages. Also brainwashed into believing King Francois I killed her parents and that King Henry VIII is an all-powerful supreme being, she would do anything to avenge her family and please her benefactor, which means infiltrating the court of Francois I as a lady in waiting to Anne d’Heilly, the king’s mistress.
But Francois I is not the monster she had been expecting. A learned man and patron of the arts, Francois is a true Renaissance king and the fact that he is also charming, generous and sincere is unarming to Genevieve. She had been bred to believe the worst of this man and here he was slowly becoming a father figure to her, causing Genevieve to question her mission and torn between the two biggest forces in her life.
To Serve a King is a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing read! I loved the quotes that began every chapter, the characters were well developed and the descriptions of Francois’ opulent court were breathtaking. I loved reading about Francois I and now want to know more about him. A fast paced read with a clever and tenacious protagonist, I found it hard to put down! Any fan of historical mysteries will love this exciting read by Donna Russo Morin! (less)
Having heard the ravings about the Pink Carnation series for years, I finally picked up my first and now can see what all the fuss has been about! The...moreHaving heard the ravings about the Pink Carnation series for years, I finally picked up my first and now can see what all the fuss has been about! The Orchid Affair, the seventh installment of the Pink Carnation series, was such a fantastically entertaining read that I am officially hooked and now on a mission to read the entire series.
I don’t feel it necessary to summarize the story as the synopsis above has done it perfectly, but what I did want to talk about was how wonderful the characters were. Laura Grey has been itching to shake things up a bit in her life and ditch the life of a governess. Entering the Selwick Spy School, she joins the League of the Pink Carnation and becomes known as The Silver Orchid. The focus of her first assignment, Andre Jaouen is working for the Republic though quickly becoming disillusioned with the new government. There’s an instant spark when they meet and in Laura, Andre seems to have found his match. Their banter was really quite entertaining! Of course, we also meet up with the woman known as the Pink Carnation, whom Laura described perfectly in this quote:
“It would have been easier to tolerate her if she had been beautiful but dim; clever and plain. One could respect clever and plain. But to be beautiful and clever seemed like an oversight on the part of the gods.”
And then there was this crazy poet guy who was hysterical and stole every scene he was in!
I very much enjoyed my first Pink Carnation read and think it’s a series everyone should get into if you like a fun, light read with adventure, romance and witty writing! (less)
Having just finished my first Lady Julie Grey book I can now see what all the raving about this series has been about! I could just kick mys...more4.5 Crowns
Having just finished my first Lady Julie Grey book I can now see what all the raving about this series has been about! I could just kick myself for not reading one sooner because I LOOOOOVED this book!
To sum up quickly, Julia and Nicholas are nearing the end of their 8 month honeymoon in the Mediterranean when Julia’s sister Portia and brother Plum track them down in Egypt imploring them to help Portia’s ex-girlfriend Jane. Her husband has just died mysteriously and Jane is pregnant with the heir of her husband’s family lucrative tea plantation, if it’s a boy that is, and Portia is concerned for her safety if indeed her husband was murdered for his inheritance. So, the quartet travels to majestic India, where they meet Jane’s suspicious in-laws, eccentric neighbors, and a man-eating tiger.
Now, I don’t generally read a series out of order, but there was no way I would have been able to read the others first, so I had to bite the bullet and just do it. Well, I needn’t have worried because it didn’t matter one bit that I started with book four. Yes, there were references to things and events that happened in previous novels, but Raybourn did a great job at bringing the reader up to speed quickly and concisely. I also worried about whether or not I would feel a connection to the characters having not followed their story from the beginning, but I was instantly smitten with Brisbane, Julia, Portia and Plum and found myself laughing out loud because of something they said or did many times throughout the book. In fact I was laughing within the first few pages so I knew I had a winner!
Also, the mystery part of the book itself was so wonderfully done. I have read tons of mystery books, Anne Rule real-crime books and watched enough Law & Order to be pretty good at picking out the bad guy before its revealed, but this time I was shocked at the ending!
So, if you’re in the mood for a good mystery intermingled with witty dialogue and fun characters, then Dark Road to Darjeeling is the book for you!
My favorite quote: “I think eccentricity is a virtue much undervalued. Our world would be a drab place if everyone in it were the same.” (less)
The Queen’s Captive is the third book in the Thornleigh series, following The Queen’s Lady and The King’s Daughter. The main protagonist Hon...more3.5 stars.
The Queen’s Captive is the third book in the Thornleigh series, following The Queen’s Lady and The King’s Daughter. The main protagonist Honor Thornleigh is living in exile with her husband Richard in Antwerp when Sir William Cecil appears and asks that she assist and advise Elizabeth Tudor, who is imprisoned at Woodstock by her sister, Queen Mary.
Elizabeth is under suspicion of supporting the Wyatt rebellion and Cecil is afraid that the young princess will break under the constant harassment and questioning by her sisters’ councilors, which will give Mary the excuse she needs to execute her or that she will be quietly killed by an assassin. Hesitant to be thrust back into the fire, but with their funds almost down to nil and with the promise of receiving a full pardon and the chance at moving back home to England, Honor accepts the mission.
Having not read the previous two books in the series I thought I would be a little lost, but Kyle does a good job at providing just enough background information to get the reader by but without rewriting the last book. Now it’s rare that I deviate from just straight historical fiction and have only read one or two historical mysteries, so it took a bit of sitting back and allowing my imagination to run and just let myself be entertained. And entertained I was, with great characters and an interesting plot Kyle is an author I will be reading again! (less)