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

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  819 Ratings  ·  132 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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Feb 26, 2012 Alice rated it did not like it
Shelves: tudor-history
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
Paige  Bookdragon
"Parker the Cold? Parker the Merciless? Parker the Lone Wolf? Would take a wife?" Henry tugged Parker even closer in the headlock. "Is she wealthy or connected to the nobility?


"But then why do you want her?" Henry's voice was quiet, which forced the others to quiten as well.

"I would marry for love, Your Majesty."

Henry released him, stood back, and watched Parker closely."For love?Ah. What a thing. What a privilege." He turned away, and Parker thought it in dismissal, felt cold dread at wh
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
SOS Aloha
Jul 30, 2011 SOS Aloha rated it really liked it
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
Edie Ramer
Mar 07, 2011 Edie Ramer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
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
Mar 04, 2017 Dan rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Pretty good, I look forward to the next one.
Stephanie (Bookfever. ❤)
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
Olga Godim
Aug 24, 2013 Olga Godim rated it liked it
Shelves: romance, historical
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
Misty Rayburn
Jul 20, 2011 Misty Rayburn rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 31, 2012 Kim rated it it was amazing
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.

Rick F.
Aug 12, 2012 Rick F. rated it it was amazing
"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
May 19, 2011 Has rated it really liked it
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
Michelle Diener
Aug 11, 2012 Michelle Diener rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
In a Treacherous Court was inspired by my heroine, the real historical figure of Susanna Horenbout. She was the daughter of one of the most accomplished illuminators and artists of his day, Gerard Horenbout, and along with her brother, Lucas, Susanna worked in her father's atelier. Albrecht Durer stayed with the Horenbouts on a tour he did when Susanna was around eighteen, and wrote about Susanna's work in his diary by saying: Never could I have thought a woman could draw so well. He bought one ...more
Jul 29, 2011 Joy rated it liked it
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
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'
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,
Sep 20, 2011 Julia rated it it was ok
A good outline of a book, or maybe a television script? IN A TREACHEROUS COURT is missing the setting and texture that pass out a plot. I liked the vibe, though, definitely on the cusp of both historical mystery and historical romance. Still, coming right after Kiera's painting in THE ANATOMIST'S WIFE, Susanna pulling things or of her bag and going in to a fugue state at the drop of a hat seems more "magic super power" than "glimpse into an artist's process".
Therese Walsh
Jul 08, 2011 Therese Walsh rated it it was amazing
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.
Mel (Daily Prophecy)
Also on

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
Book of Secrets
Jul 14, 2011 Book of Secrets rated it really liked it
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
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
Amy R
May 01, 2012 Amy R rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 13, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it
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
Oct 02, 2011 Donnell Bell rated it it was amazing
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
N.R. Tomasheski
Jan 19, 2012 N.R. Tomasheski rated it it was amazing
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,
1525 Susanna Horenbout comforts a man as he dies in her arms. The merchant had a message for the King of England, and she is determined to deliver it in person. John Parker has been tracing rumors of treason on the continent following them back to the court.

Why I started this book: I found Diener thru her science-fiction romance Dark Horse and I have been slowing working my way thru the rest of her books.

Why I finished it: Tudor England is far from my historical sweet spot, so I can't tell you
Rachel Larow
Jul 14, 2011 Rachel Larow rated it did not like it
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
Pamela Mingle
Apr 20, 2012 Pamela Mingle rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 25, 2012 Kyrsta rated it really liked it
** 4 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.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 15, 2015 11:24AM  
ARC giveaway 1 16 Apr 08, 2011 05:06PM  
  • To Serve a King
  • The Queen's Secret
  • The Tudor Throne
  • The Tudor Secret (The Spymaster Chronicles, #1)
  • To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Ladies in Waiting, #1)
  • The Sumerton Women (Tudor Court #3)
  • Mistress of Mourning
  • Three Maids for a Crown
  • Elizabeth, Captive Princess (Elizabeth Trilogy, #2)
  • The King's Daughter (Thornleigh, #2)
  • At the Mercy of the Queen
  • The Favored Queen
  • At the King's Pleasure  (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #4 )
  • The Queen's Rival (In the Court of Henry VIII, #3)
  • No Will But His: A Novel of Kathryn Howard
  • To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine
  • In the Shadow of Lady Jane
  • Pale Rose of England: A Novel of the Tudors
Michelle Diener writes historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy. Having worked in publishing and IT, she's now very happy crafting new worlds and interesting characters and wondering which part of the world she can travel to next.

Michelle was born in London, grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

When she's not writing, or driving her kids
More about Michelle Diener...

Other Books in the Series

Susanna Horenbout and John Parker (3 books)
  • Keeper of the King's Secrets  (Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, #2)
  • In Defense of the Queen (Susanna Horenbout & John Parker, #3)

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