Title: The King's Damsel: Secrets of the Tudor Court, No. 5
Author: Kate Emerson
Paperback, August 7, 2012; Gallery Books
Genre: historical fiction
I'm giving this a 4.5 rating, not just for this new book but for the entire series - five books! Great storytelling and weaving of romance into 16th century English history - the Tudor Court and its customs, intrigue, and of course, it's ladies.
The series has as its main characters minor ladies at court who served the Tudor queens in some capacity, mostly as ladies in waiting.
Their observations and experiences as well as their personal stories give us an inside look at the complex life of the Tudors, in particular Henry VIII, his forbears, relatives, and the men and women who serve and surround him.
In The King's Damsel, Kate Emerson has given a name to an unknown woman referred to in historical letters as "the handsome young lady of the court" and the "damsel" that was a beloved of Henry VIII. This woman was also a faithful friend of Princess Mary, the king's daughter by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Emerson named her character Thomasine (Tamsin) Lodge and filled in her story as a wealthy heiress sent to the royal court by her guardian to serve first Princess Mary and later, Anne Boleyn, who became Queen Anne, the second wife of Henry VIII.
At court, Tamsin spies for Princess Mary while serving as a lady in waiting for Queen Anne, sending secret messages about the goings on at court that could affect the Princess's claim as rightful heir to the throne. Tamsin also becomes the king's mistress, supposedly to try to influence him to favor his first daughter, whom Anne Boleyn wants to see disinherited in favor of her own child, Elizabeth.
So many tangled connections in the plot, but they are intriguing and the main characters do stand out. It also helps if you remember your English history.
I recommend this series to all lovers of historical fiction and Tudor history. This is the first series I've read set in this period and I must say it was worth reading all the books. I still have the fourth to finish, At the King's Pleasure, but enjoyed The Pleasure Palace, Between Two Queens, By Royal Decree, and this latest, The King's Damsel. Happily, the novels don't have to be read in consecutive order.
Thanks to the publisher for complimentary copies of the books for my objective review.