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.
Susanna Horenbout is not your normal woman in Tudor-era Europe in 1525. She is summoned to King Henry VIII’s court to be his personal illuminator (artist who paints everyday scenes). When she arrives from Belgium, she is met with an attempt on her life. She narrowly escapes, and is assigned a man named John Parker to be her personal bodyguard. He is the most dangerous member of Henry’s court, and is aptly suited to his new job. It’s a good thing, too, as more attempts are made at Susanna’s life and John works to protect her. They eventually find that Susanna is unknowingly the crux in an elaborate plan to overthrow Henry and take over the throne. With pressure mounting as troops are building in France for an invasion, Henry and his court could be harboring a fugitive with the aim of taking them down from within. Will Susanna and John be able to figure out what the plan is? Will they be able to stay alive long enough to do so?
The court of Henry VIII holds a certain mysterious flair to me. The stories of constant scheming, backstabbing, and fake courtly manners are just mesmerizing and enthralling. I can’t help but to want to read every book about these elements of the court that I can get my hands on. The Susana Horenbout/John Parker series that Diener is writing definitely fits this mold, embellishing factual pieces of the time period with dramatic flair and captivating characters.
John Parker is a heavenly man. He is incredibly intelligent, fiercely loyal, and has the brain and brawn to help him in almost any situation. Susanna, on the other hand, is a woman way ahead of her time. She is a woman who refuses to be what the court expects of her, instead choosing to pave her own way in life. She is constantly wondering why woman and men are not allowed the same freedoms both professionally and sexually. She and John are perfect pairs for one another, as John is 100% on board with her wants and needs out of life. He understands her want of a profession (painting), and her need to be equal with him.
The book packs a punch from beginning to end, taking the reader on a wild ride that you wish will never end. I’m eagerly anticipating beginning the next novel in the series, Keeper of the King’s Secrets, and the short novella Dangerous Sanctuary which sets up book two. I highly recommend reading this fantastic venture into the Tudor period. Fans of Philippa Gregory, Elizabeth Loupas, and Elizabeth Chadwick should definitely add this book to their to-read piles.
5 out of 5 Stars
This is my forty-fourth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener
Gallery Books (2011)
Paperback: 320 pages
Special thanks to Simon and Schuster UK for sending me my review copy!