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Reviewed by Colleen Turner
Have you ever found a book series that had you devouring each book as they came out, simultaneously saddened when the current book is over and newly excited to see where the next book will take the characters? Well after reading Barbara Kyle’s last book in her Thornleigh saga, Blood Between Queens, I knew I had found just that. I went back and listened to the audiobook version of the first book in the series and purchased the rest of the series to get caught up with the actions of the Thornleigh family as they navigated the twisted labyrinth that was the Tudor court. Ms. Kyle’s newest book in the series, The Queen’s Exiles, picks up in 1572, three years after the action in Blood Between Queens and, just like its predecessor, takes off running and never slows down.
Venturing away from England into the wild open sea and onto the turbulent and dangerous lands of the Spanish-occupied Netherlands, The Queen’s Exiles shines a light on Fenella Doorn, a Scottish born woman running her own ship-refitting business on the island of Sark, making her own way in life after her husband was killed by Spanish invaders. When Adam Thornleigh, a man she helped rescue eleven years previously and one she has never been able to forget, sails into Sark’s harbor she is instantly drawn into his quest to not only work as Queen Elizabeth’s agent on the high seas but to get back his children from his traitorous Catholic wife, Frances, who has been in hiding since her failed attempt to kill the Protestant Queen of England. Their journey is dangerous and filled with endless surprises, people they believed to be dead found alive and some of those they have long had at their side meeting their final end. As they both work to rescue their loved ones from the clutches of the tyrannical Duke of Alba, a man slaughtering the Dutch in the name of his faith and his Spanish King, they will find themselves falling in love in a world that wants nothing more than to keep them apart. Fighting between what they want and what is right, both will make tremendous sacrifices in the name of love.
Intertwined with the story involving Fenella, Adam and Frances is that of Adam’s sister, Isabel and her husband Carlos Valverde, a man longing for his home in England but having to work for the Duke of Alba in order to make enough money to be able to return to England and pay off his debts. These characters, like the others mentioned, have all been introduced in previous books in the series and it is fascinating watching them all try to untangle themselves from the various destructive webs they find themselves in, some of which have been twisting around them for a number of books. Mixed in with these established characters are some new and fascinating ones such as those in the groups The Sea Beggars and the Brethren, men and women all putting their lives on the line to push out the Spanish in the name of William, the Prince of Orange. The action and sacrifice is constant and Ms. Kyle does not shy away from placing the reader at the heart of the violence and adventure. But as in real life the determination and willingness of each character to give everything for what they believe in makes their triumphs that much sweeter and, for those that are not successful, their sacrifices that much more heartbreaking.
Barbara Kyle’s Thornleigh Saga is enthralling and each book draws the reader deeper and deeper into the lives and worlds of her characters, all against the backdrop of the very real and exhilarating history surrounding them. I for one cannot get enough of these books and am once again anxiously waiting to see how Ms. Kyle continues the many dangling threads of storyline in her next book.
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 by Kensington Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.