Courtly politics are behind an assassination attempt in old
London. Queen Margaret of Austria passes a message to
Queen Katherine via a young man called Lucas Horenbout and
his sister Susanna. The young lady is about to marry a man
in the royal household, Parker, King's Yeoman of the Robes.
Even possessing a message is enough to send a crossbow bolt
flying in their direction....
IN DEFENSE OF THE QUEEN thrusts us into the heart of the
games played across the empires of Europe. An assassin
called Jean is rumoured to have survived a dunking in the
mighty river Thames, and to be keen on completing a
mission. England's King Henry the Eighth, Cardinal Wolsey
and Emperor Charles of Austria all have spies sampling
royal life, and various noblemen try to influence the king
to favour their families. Susanna, a portrait painter, has
no protection if the king should order her thrown in gaol,
and even if they destroy the message, she, her brother and
her lover are playing a dangerous game. Parker has been
King's Yeoman of the Crossbows and is fit and brave, but he
can't afford to be called a traitor.
There's plenty of action and suspense in this historical
thriller, and author Michelle Diener has selected
quotations from 'Utopia' by Sir Thomas More for the start
of each chapter. Principal buildings of the city mentioned
are the Tower, Bridewell Palace, Greenwich downriver and
the Hospital of the Savoy, countered with stinking back
lanes and wizened tradeswomen among the dwellings. Amusing
to today's inhabitants, there's an orchard and cattle
grazing not far from Fleet Street, for the city sprawl has
barely started. The Tower hosts the king's menagerie
including a lion, part of the times.
Michele Diener has researched thoroughly and has written
two previous novels about these characters, In a
Treacherous Court and Keeper of The King's Secrets. She's
originally from South Africa and has also written a book
which I enjoyed about the Zulu Wars with England, called
Daughter of The Sky. IN DEFENSE OF THE QUEEN may be too
complex for those who prefer a straightforward historical
romance, but it will delight those who love to speculate on
the scandals and spies of Henry the Eighth's day.
An artist never betrays her patron . . . especially one
of the world's most powerful kings.
Susanna Horenbout has learned this lesson from the cradle.
But when she receives a letter from her father telling her
to do just that, she faces a dilemma. Betray Henry VIII, or
carry out the request of her father's employer, Margaret of
Austria, and pass secret information to Henry's queen,
Katherine of Aragon.
Caught between the machinations of her husband and her
nephew, the Emperor Charles, Queen Katherine needs all the
allies she can get. But what can Susanna really do to help
her, and even if she does, will it be enough?
Susanna and her betrothed, Parker——one of
Henry's most trusted courtiers——balance on the
knife's edge of treason as they try to make sense of both
international and domestic conspiracies. Sometimes, it's
better the enemy you know . . .