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In a treacherous court (book review)

August 10, 2011

In A Treacherous Court

Michelle Diener

Gallery Books ARC from Simon and Schuster

310 pages.

I knew I was going to like this book. Set in Tudor England, it has spies, intrigue, a a central female character as brave as she is talented, and bantering romance. I enjoyed it even more than I expected to. Raised and trained in Belgium, the artist Susanna Horenbout is sent to be a painter in the court of Henry VIII. Her journey to England, is plagued by violence, including attempts on her life. John Parker, a brutally pragmatic man in the trusted employ of the King is charged with keeping her safe, as well is figuring out how her presence has touched off a plot that may endanger the King and the throne.

From the perilous moment they meet,Parker and Susannah are drawn to one another. Susannah is such a strong and self-possessed character she is almost what has to be an anachronism. An enjoyable anachronism,which makes for a fun intrigue/romance. Parker takes to protecting her, as fiercely as he is loyal to the king, but also possessively. I might have liked the romance to develop more slowly, or to be more complex. But, at the excellent intricacies of the plot, against Susannah, and against Henry’s court kept things moving fast and intensely. So, even within the Tudor constraints, it makes sense to have a romance follow the same pelting fast-pace. (I mean, look at Shakespeare, it’s not like there was any overwhelming shyness about sex… Or mistresses,  or whatnot)

When I mentioned this book to my friend Lisa, she said “it sounds like you’re starting the vacation reading, before you go on vacation.” And this would definitely be a good vacation read. Fast, fun, with plenty of satisfying twists and turns, some of which were well-crafted surprises.

if you like historical fiction, along the lines of Philippa Gregory,definitely pick this book up.

Shag/Marry/Cliff: Marry! and spend the honeymoon shagging! The passionately romantic protagonists, Parker andSusanna, would like nothing more to solve the court intrigue they’re caught in, so they can have time to make ye olde two-backed beast… and marry. I’m all for this book deserving both, and I like it well enough to make space for it on my bookshelf, for a reread.

For every book I read in 2011, I’m donating $1 to the New York Public Library.

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