Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Blood Between Queens

Blood Between Queens
By Barbara Kyle
Kensington House, April 2013

About the Book

Following her perilous fall from a throne she’d scarcely owned to begin with, Mary, Queen of Scots, has fled to England, hoping her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, will grant her asylum. But now Mary has her sights on the English crown, and Elizabeth enlists her most trusted subjects to protect it.

Justine Thornleigh is delighting in the thrill of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to her family’s estate when the festivities are cut short by Mary’s arrival. To Justine’s surprise, the Thornleighs appoint her to serve as a spy in Mary’s court. But bearing the guise of a lady-in-waiting is not Justine’s only secret. The weight of her task is doubled by fears of revealing to her fiancĂ© that she is in truth the daughter of his family’s greatest rival. Duty-bound, Justine must sacrifice love as she navigates a deadly labyrinth of betrayal that could lead to the end of Elizabeth’s fledgling reign.

My Review

Kyle’s fictional families, the Grenvilles and the Thornleighs, fit effortlessly into the Elizabethan court. This is the fifth book in the Thornleigh series, which details the families’ lives from the time of Mary I forward. Kyle gives her characters parts in historic events, allowing them first row seats in the action and painting a fuller picture of the era. The result is an engaging story of shifting loyalties, intrigue, and non-stop action. Justine is caught in a dilemma—should she be true to her biological father and her family’s faith? Or should she honor those who have raised her and shown her true kindness despite her bloodline?

Justine is an engaging character, brave and smart. As the book progresses, however, she is easily manipulated and rather naive, thinking that she alone can win over two battling queens to reach a peaceful agreement. Justine deceives those she cares for most in order to obtain her goal, which felt slightly out of character, I thought. I found the struggle between Sir Adam, Sir Richard’s son, and his wife Frances to be the most interesting in the book, as Frances (born a Grenville) tries to win over her husband, who is more interested in pleasing his queen than paying any attention to his loveless marriage.

A great book for all those Tudor history buffs out there. The ending of this one makes it clear that future action will center upon Sir Adam, so I’ll be interested to see where Kyle takes the story next.

Rebecca Henderson Palmer

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