The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy (The Marquess House Trilogy #2), by Alexandra Walsh

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Alexandra Walsh, and Sapere Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

After an explosive opening novel in her Tudor trilogy, Alexandra Walsh returns with another instalment, building on some of the mysteries revealed in the opening piece. Perdita Rivers and her sister, Piper, are still trying to wrap their heads around the fact that their grandmother left them a massive estate and countless pieces of her research. However, with that comes the fear of being hunted by an elusive part of the British Government. While away for a wedding, the sisters discover new mysteries tied to the knowledge that Catherine Howard—Henry VIII’s fifth wife—had twins by the king, but they were hidden away. Now, in a mystery that ties to the reign of Elizabeth I, Perdita and Piper learn what became of the twins and how Elizabeth contemplated the Tudor secession based on this information. In secret correspondence, Elizabeth and her closest ladies discussed the news, using jewels to pass the most important of all their news. However, with Philip II of Spain seeking to overthrow Elizabeth and trying to take over the English Throne, the Tudor line (and England herself) are in dire straits, particularly because news of the Howard twins has somehow made it to the continent. As Perdita learns more, she stumbles to discover how it was all revealed and what Elizabeth did to protect herself and the Crown from Spanish interference. Told in two timeline narratives, Walsh keeps the reader hooked until the final pages with this mystery that still has one final piece to tie it all together. Wonderful in its presentation, fans of Tudor history will enjoy this piece, as long as they can keep an open mind about fictional accounts. Recommended to those who love a good historical mystery, as well as those who love the life of the Tudors.

Having read a few other books by this publisher, I was offered an early copy of the first novel in the series. When I noticed a second book was ready for pre-release, I leapt at the opportunity, knowing that Alexandra Walsh would not disappoint. The detail found in this book forces the reader to decipher truth from fiction throughout, hoping the find the thread of the story and using newly unearthed pieces of the historical narrative to entertain the curious reader. Perdita’s character has less of a backstory in this novel, but her ability to piece together some more of the Tudor history keeps the reader enthralled throughout. Seeking to uncover some of the lesser known aspects of Tudor history and genealogy fuels a great narrative and allows the reader to feel fully involved in the process. Other characters in the novel, including Elizabeth I, provide an exciting flavour to the story, serving not only to propel the history of the story forward but also offering exciting plots for the reader to enjoy throughout. The premise of this book was as exciting as the first, building on some of the scandalous revelations. Walsh spins an effective and plausible version of events, which she substantiates in her author’s note at the end of the piece. So much to digest and some ideas that could offer Tudor fans much to consider as they rush to the history books to cross-reference some of the narrative’s most outlandish claims. All in all, a wonderful read and it has left me pining for the third book.

Kudos, Madam Walsh, for another wonderful novel. This series has me curious and I hope to learn more in short order.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy (The Marquess House Trilogy #1), by Alexandra Walsh

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Alexandra Walsh, and Sapere Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Alexandra Walsh storms onto the scene with this intriguing piece of historical fiction that opens new questions about the Tudors and Catherine Howard. While attending a dig, archeologist Dr. Perdita Rivers is alerted to some startling news; her estranged grandmother, popular Tudor historian Mary Fitzroy, has passed away. Even more alarming is the fact that Perdita and her sister, Piper, are now the rightful owners of Marquess House, a massive estate that Perdita never knew was part of the family. Surveying her new property, Perdita begins sifting through everything her grandmother left behind, including massive amounts of research relating to the Tudors. The deeper Perdita delves, the more she discovers. Of particular interest is an unpublished work on Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife. The story flashes back to the time of Catherine’s life, exploring her time as a lady at Court. Catherine surrounded herself by Anne of Cleves, the foreign princess sent to marry Henry VIII. Young and quite beautiful, Catherine catches the eye of the king, especially when his hastily arranged marriage goes stale soon after it is solidified. However, Henry VIII is anything but a compassionate lover, using violence and his title to demand submission, both in and out of bed. Once Henry VIII is in search of a new wife, Catherine is the obvious choice. She soon fears for her life when the violence escalates as she is not quick to produce an heir. As Perdita reads more, she begins to piece together some highly controversial information. Could it be that Catherine Howard was never executed? If so, who stood in her place and what happened to this young woman? While Perdita seeks to uncover more, additional mysteries behind her grandmother’s death and a group that has been following her are revealed. This further explains the estrangement between Mary Fitzroy and her granddaughters for a quarter of a century. Filled with adventure and historical revelations, Alexandra Walsh pulls the reader into the middle of this opening novel in an expected trilogy. Recommended for those who love historical mysteries and fiction, as well as readers with an interest in all things Tudor.

I eagerly accepted the chance to read Walsh’s debut novel, as it provided me the opportunity to explore some Tudor history intertwined with a great historical mystery. Walsh develops the first of this trilogy with an interesting premise, whose importance becomes more apparent the more the story develops. Dr. Perdita Rivers proves to be a wonderful character who comes into her own throughout this piece. An archeologist by training, Rivers is well-versed with historical discoveries, though is quite surprised when she uncovers much of the research her grandmother left her. The reader learns a little more about the estrangement period, as well as Rivers’ own backstory and some development, both familial and personal, throughout the piece. Walsh lays the groundwork for some interesting future adventures, both as they relate to the Tudors and life within the Marquess House. Others help to flesh-out the story effectively, none more than Catherine Howard herself. Long deemed flighty and quite promiscuous—like her cousin, Anne Boleyn—Catherine Howard’s brief marriage and eventual execution seem a foregone conclusion. However, Walsh injects some interesting twists into the story, while building a wonderful narrative to offer new and potentially insightful aspects to Tudor history. The story worked quite well and serves both to entertain as well as educate the reader. There is much development of a mystery, both in Tudor times and during the present period. Readers are left with many questions, sure to help lure them into wanting to find the next books in the trilogy. Walsh has definitely offered much on which the reader can posit, including secret societies created to protect and veil those historical anomalies that have not made it into tomes. I am eager to see what Walsh has coming down the pipeline and will keep my eyes peeled for the second book when it has been published.

Kudos, Madam Walsh, for a wonderful opening novel in this series. You have me curious and hoping the intensity stays high throughout the trilogy.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons