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In Defense of the Queen by Michelle Diener
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ometimes a series just keep on getting better and this one certainly did. This book never let go of me, the suspense was always there. Susanna was truly in trouble.

This is the third book in the series about Susanna and Parker. Still not married ;) but it's coming. There is a message for the queen, but the question is deliver it or not? Treason? And then there again is a plot that needs to be uncovered and dangers for both of them. There is lots of running, spying and hiding.

Now why was this book the best one so far? I always have a hard time putting the finger on what. It just was. The pages flew by, the characters were awesome, the punches kept on coming and the writing was excellent. So, it just was the best one so far :D And I want more. Mostly cos I want them to get married and I could see them getting into a lot of trouble at the wedding.

An interesting series set in Tudor times. Suspense, secrets and spies. ( )
  blodeuedd | Mar 2, 2016 |
I'm pretty much a die-hard Diener fan now -- she made me inhale (and love), three Tudor-era hist fics! After being blown away by Daughter of the Sky, her historical novel set in 19th century South Africa, I agreed to review this one despite my finickiness about Tudor historical novels. I was lured by her appealing heroine, a painter at Henry VIII's court.

On a whim, I picked up the first two books in the series, In a Treacherous Court and Keeper of the King's Secrets, despite my enormous review queue, and I inhaled both by Saturday before starting this one. This one, hands down, is my favorite of the series so far, which like the other books is brisk, action-filled, slightly romantic/sexy, and intriguing.

I apologize now for the awkward review: writing something sensible about a book I'm mostly arm-waving about is hard! Plus, I'm still caught up in all three books and I really just want to shove them at everyone.

Our heroine, Susanna Horenbout, is a Belgian (Flemish) artist, sent by her father to work in Henry VIII's court. From the moment she stepped foot in the UK, her life has been filled with intrigue and danger, but she has found protection (and love) with one of Henry's low born courtiers, John Parker.

This book starts a mere few months after the end of the second book, with the arrival of Lucas, Susanna's brother, in London. While Susanna has started illuminations and portraits for Henry and his court, Lucas assumes he will take on the responsibility of his family's commission, much to Susanna's bitterness. But Lucas' arrival is not for work, she quickly learns, as he forces on her a secret letter to Queen Catherine that embroils her in unwelcome intrigue. At the same time, her betrothed's advancement at court has rankled both strong courtiers and Cardinal Wolsey, and her brother's machinations lead her to be imprisoned on charges of treason.

Both Susanna and Parker are historical figures from Henry VIII's court, although little is known about them particularly. But Susanna was a painter, and Parker was Henry's Yeoman of the Crossbows, and they really did marry. I'm completely in love with Susanna, who is a wonderfully competent heroine -- pragmatic, calm, and savvy -- and she makes the series for me. Despite the possibly over-the-top intrigue and drama, her realistic responses to the danger and excitement keep the story grounded for me.

While this book is very readable as a standalone, I think there's a huge emotional payoff by reading the first two books. They're brisk and fun and set up both Susanna and Parker's relationship, their relationship with Henry and his court, and explain why the villains in this book are so determined to get them. I believe this is a self-published sequel (the previous two novels were published by Gallery), and having read them all back-to-back, I had no idea this one wasn't traditionally published.

Tudor fans will want to get this series as well as those who want a 'lighter' historical novel that doesn't stint on historical detail or fascinating characters. (I am, needless to say, dying for another book with them!) ( )
  unabridgedchick | Aug 26, 2013 |
Treachery and treason in the court of King Henry VIII...

As an avid reader of historical fiction and a lover of the Tudor England time period, I was destined to enjoy this book. There were a few things I had to suspend but disbelief about (such as a favored female painter for Henry VIII), but overall I enjoyed it very much.

Susana Horenbout receives a secret and dangerous message to pass on to Queen Catherine. The message almost gets her killed as well as sent to the Tower for Treason by Cromwell. And so the adventure begins. The story and characters kept me engaged while reading; I entered this series with "In Defense of the Queen" and will definitely like to read the rest of the books in the series. ( )
  Mishker | Aug 25, 2013 |
Riveting and passionate with intrigue and malice at every turn!

The morass of intrigue and treason that surrounds John Parker and Susanna Horenbout in King Henry's court continues. This couple is just one step away from being annihilated by either powerful enemies, jealous courtiers, French spies or their own King.
Rumour is thatThe Frenchman is back to settle a score. Parker knew that Jean had no score to settle with him. 'The only reason a professional assassin came back kill, without payment, was because it was personal. And that meant that he'd come back for Susanna.'
But that was just the beginning. Accused by Wolsley of being a traitor, caught between a King and his Queen, locked up in the Tower, Susanna is soon fighting for her life. With the indominatable Parker at her side and friends and enemies changing sides the tension ratchets up as the story plays out.
The shadow of Wolsley as ever dominates, a malicious spider at the centre of this web of power and shifting alliances, of kings and crowns and inheritances. Another fantastic historical thriller in this series.

A NetGalley ARC ( )
  eyes.2c | Jul 31, 2013 |
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Much thanks and love to Jo
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The houses in Lombard Street leant against each other like a crowd of drunks, propping each other up.
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Book description
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 . . .

[retrieved 1/14/2014 from Amazon.com]
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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.… (more)

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