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Reviewed by Colleen Turner
Justine Grenville has been living a happy life since being taken in by the Thornleigh family when her traitor father’s death after a failed uprising against Queen Elizabeth left her orphaned. Not wanting her father’s tainted reputation to stain Justine’s life, Baron Richard Thornleigh and his wife Honor have hidden Justine’s true identity, telling everyone she is a distant Thornleigh relative. That is until Justine becomes betrothed to Richard’s nephew, Will Croft, and Richard tells Justine he will support the match only if she tells Will her true identity. This presents a problem since the Grenville and Thornleigh families have been feuding for years, a feud that has brought about much destruction and death, including the death of Will’s father.
How can Justine tell Will the truth when he so vehemently hates her family? The perfect opportunity seems to present itself when Justine is enlisted to serve as a spy for Queen Elizabeth in the household of the Queen’s cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, who has sought asylum in England after losing a battle to maintain her Scottish throne. If Justine can prove to Will, who is employed by Elizabeth’s chief adviser William Cecil, that she is loyal to their Queen then surely he will not blame her for her family’s past.
Once a part of Mary’s household, however, Justine finds she has quite a bit in common with the fallen Queen and isn’t sure that Elizabeth’s treatment of her cousin is just. Things are further complicated when someone from Justine’s past, someone who’s existence she has kept a secret, resurfaces and asks her help in supporting Mary. With so many secrets and deep rooted deception swirling around her, Justine must decide who to trust, leading to some devastating consequences.
Blood Between Queens is my first journey into the Thornleigh saga and let me tell you, there is a lot to love! Barbara Kyle does an exceptional job of bringing a reader new to the series up to speed on what has happened in the previous books. While this makes it easy to read Blood Between Queens as a stand-alone novel, there is so much emotion and drama that has obviously occurred in the previous books that I wish I had read the series from the beginning and I plan on going back and doing so. There is a lot of information packed into this story and while the conflict between Queens Elizabeth and Mary are the historical center the Thornleigh/Grenville family feud is definitely the main story line Secrets, deception and hatred abound but I enjoyed how a ray of hope was let in to pierce this vicious feud while keeping some conflict to continue into future books in the series (fingers crossed). And good luck being able to put the book down once the real action starts towards the end of the book. All I can say is wow!
Dealing with a number of conflicts – Thornleigh vs. Grenville, Queen Elizabeth vs. Queen Mary, Catholic vs. Protestant, England vs. Spain and more – Blood Between Queens is a rich, absorbing historical adventure that does a superb job of melding true history with fictional characters that are even better than the real ones they interact with. This is a must read for anyone who has read the previous books in the series and an enjoying journey for any lover of English historical fiction or exciting family dramas.
Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Kensington. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.