(Cover picture courtesy of Michelle Diener’s site.)
A priceless jewel. A royal court rife with intrigue. A secret deal, where the price of truth could come too high . . .
The personal artist to King Henry Tudor, Susanna Horenbout is sought by the queen and ladies of the court for her delicate, skilled portraits. But now someone from her past is pulling her into a duplicitous game where the consequence of failure is war. Soon, Susanna and her betrothed, the King’s most dangerous courtier, are unraveling a plot that would shatter Europe. And at the heart of it is a magnificent missing diamond. . . .
With John Parker at her side, Susanna searches for the diamond and those responsible for its theft, their every step dogged by a lethal assassin. Finding the truth means plunging into the heart of the court’s most bitter infighting, surviving the harrowing labyrinth of Fleet Prisonand then coming face-to-face with the most dangerous enemy of all.
[Full disclosure: I received a free print copy from Michelle Diener in exchange for an honest review.]
After the awesome novel that was In a Treacherous Court, I decided that I desperately needed to read the rest of Susanna Horenbout and John Parker’s story. After all, there’s still plenty of intrigue coming up in the court of Henry VIII at this point in time.
Michelle Diener didn’t disappoint with this sequel. Compared to her debut novel (which was good) this one is even better simply because of the quality of the writing. She slows down a little to describe things like how Susanna illuminates manuscripts but not too much so that the plot is any slower than the first book. The extra descriptions are relevant and on the whole just make the story better, not slower.
The characters are, as always, fantastic. I enjoyed seeing Susanna and John working together to find the Mirror of Naples because you can really feel their love for each other. They work well together as a team and even though they don’t always agree on things their love shines through and they’re able to reconcile. Compared to a lot of YA I’ve been reading lately, this adult historical fiction novel was a breath of fresh air because of the stable, loving relationship Susanna and John have.
One thing I was surprised at was how fleshed out King Henry VIII was in this book. We get to see a lot more of him this time around and you kind of see both the good and bad sides of his character. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m sure I’m not the only Jean fan in this book because he truly is a fascinating character.
As with the previous novel in the series Keeper of the King’s Secrets kept me guessing right up until the very end. It was well researched and well plotted; you really couldn’t ask for more in historical fiction. There’s also a very interesting little cliffhanger at the end that will make you very, very eager to get your hands on the next book In Defense of the Queen.
I give this book 5/5 stars.