Author: Michelle Diener.
Published: August 2nd 2011.
Publisher: Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 1439197083 (ISBN13: 9781439197080)
Sort: Part one of ‘Susanna Horenbout and John Parker.’
Source: The author was so kind to provide me with a copy for a honest review.
An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire.. 1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.Who is the mastermind? Why are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die…
Rating: 4 out of 5.
John Parker is waiting for the personal illuminator for Henry VIII. Instead of the stinking, arrogant man he expects, Susanna arrives and she brings a lot of trouble. A man died on board and he gave her some valuable information she must deliver to the king. People are willing to kill her and on their way to the palace, there are already two attempts to take her life.
People keep coming for them and slowly, they unravel the real meaning behind the information. There is a huge complot against the King and the conspiracy comes from deep within his trusted circle. It’s up to Parker, one of his most trusted man, to find out who is behind the attacks; who wants to overthrow the King to put someone else on the throne.
In the time Parker and Susanna spend together, they develop a feeling for each other. There is a certain chemistry between them from the moment they met and it only grows into something more. Susanna starts to play a big role in Parker’s life, but will she becomes his downfall if the enemy uses that against him?
The world-building is great. It felt like I was walking around next to Parker and Susanna. I could imagine the tension at court. Everybody is smiling, but they will stab you in the back if they get the chance to get more status, land and money. There is nobody you can really trust. Imagine how it must feel to be King. Luckily for Henry, he has Parker. I would definitely trust my life around Parker. He is good in fighting and he will do anything to keep the persons he love safe.
Parker really grew unto me. From the moment I met him, I knew I was going to love him. He is a bit distant and dark, but he opens up around Susanna. He is merciless when they harm “his lady” and he is incredibly protective. He sounded very attractive and charming.
Susanna was a great character as well. She is sweet, but definitely not someone who goes down without a fight. She isn’t afraid to tell what’s on her mind and she was able to make intelligent choices. I found her refreshing; you could see she never grew up at court.
It was great to unravel the conspiracy together with them. Every piece of information leads us closer to the enemy and I was surprised by the ending. The enemy is clever and was well-written, like the other characters. They play their part and they complete the story. You could see that Diener has done her research. The story felt realistic and it was nice to see her explanation at the end. About the real history and the things she made up; but it still feels like it could have happened.
I’m looking forward to continue the story with Parker and Susanna, because in the next book ‘Keeper of the King’s secret’ they are up to a lot of trouble. If you like history, Philippa Gregory, The Tudors and mystery with some romance, this book is something for you!