The Tudor Conspiracy USPlease welcome C.W. Gortner, author of The Tudor Conspiracy, as he tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

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Reviewed by Colleen Turner

It’s the winter of 1554 and Mary Tudor is now the queen of England. While she took her throne with the support of her subjects, the fact that she is now contemplating marriage to the Catholic Prince Philip of Spain does not sit well with many. Many would rather see Mary’s half sister, the Protestant Princess Elizabeth, as queen and it is this fact that allows the seeds of doubt and betrayal to ferment in Mary. These doubts are helped along by the Spanish ambassador Renard who will stop at nothing to see Philip on the English throne and Elizabeth in her grave. So when Elizabeth is ordered to come to court and put under close watch, her adviser William Cecil must send someone to protect her.

Brendan Prescott has been living quietly at Hatfield House in Elizabeth’s employ since nearly losing his life in protecting Mary and Elizabeth from the schemes of the now-dead Duke of Northumberland, the man who attempted to steal the throne from Mary and proclaimed her cousin, Jane Grey, as queen. But having sworn to serve Elizabeth, Brendan must return to the dangerous court he hates to protect his mistress once again. His job will be anything but easy, however, when he finds himself a double agent, working for Mary to try and find evidence that Elizabeth is plotting with others to place herself on the throne while trying to keep Elizabeth safe. In a world where it seems no one’s loyalty can be trusted, Brendan must use his skills as an intelligencer to try to not only discover the truth but to keep his mistress, himself and those he loves alive, something that will prove harder than he ever thought possible.

The Tudor Conspiracy is the second book in C.W. Gortner’s The Spymaster Chronicles and I would highly recommend anyone interested in this series start with the first book, The Tudor Secret. Without first reading The Tudor Secret the intricate and weaving relationships between the characters cannot be fully appreciated. Hinted at past wrongs and the heartfelt reunions just don’t seem as poignant when you haven’t read what happened before. For me, I like to feel fully absorbed in what is going on. And this is a great series to become absorbed in!

While Brendan Prescott is fictional he is a wonderfully entertaining character to have as that crucial person able to go between Mary and Elizabeth’s intimate circles as well as into the underbelly of London. He is intelligent, tough and snarky when he needs to be and it seems like he can blend in to most surroundings, even when he becomes increasingly injured in his dealings with those that would happily see him and the woman he serves dead. He is able to witness people in different lights – whether vulnerable behind closed doors or strong and determined in front of others – and this well rounded view allows the reader to see that most people Brendan comes into contact with are usually not all good or bad. This also makes it harder to determine who is telling the truth and who isn’t, as well as why they might be lying, all of which adds to the suspense and mystery permeating the story.

So much is written about the Tudors and it can be hard to find stories that haven’t been told a hundred times before. The Tudor Conspiracy deals with the immediate time before, during and after the Wyatt Revolt of 1544, a time and situation that has been discussed in other books I’ve read but not used as the central conspiracy. There is so much to love here, with suspense, action, history, intrigue and even a little bit of romance that it would be hard not to find something to enjoy. This is a must read for anyone who loves a dramatic Tudor story.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

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 St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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