IN A TREACHEROUS COURT is Michelle Diener's exciting debut novel. The story is set in the court of Henry VIII when he was still married to his first wife Catherine of Aragon. John Parker, one of the king's most trusted and loyal courtiers, is sent to meet the king's new court painter arriving by ship from the Netherlands. He is surprised to learn that the Flemish artist is a young woman named Susanna Horenbout, and that she was the witness to the murder of a spy. The secret message for the king that the dying man whispered to Susanna has put her life in grave danger, and it's Parker's duty to deliver her to Henry safely. Soon Parker and Susanna become entangled in a plot against the king, and they must find who's responsible before Susanna becomes the next victim.
IN A TREACHEROUS COURT is an interesting blend of historical fiction, mystery, suspense and romance. I love stories set in the Tudor period, and I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of this time and place, both the beautiful and the cruel. Henry VIII is one of history's more intriguing rulers, so I loved that he was a character in this book.
The main characters were also based on actual historical figures. Susanna Horenbout was a Flemish artist who is thought to have worked for the king at one time. John Parker was the King's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and his Yeoman of the Crossbows. They seemed well suited for each other since the story tells us neither were traditional players in Henry's court. Their romance blended nicely into the story as a whole. My favorite character was Parker, who could be ruthless yet compassionate when needed.
The mystery surrounding the plot against the king, including the major players involved, was well researched and very convincing. The book started out strong, but the pacing did slow down in the middle. However, the ending was very suspenseful - there were plenty of nail-biting moments. This is the first book in a series, and I will definitely be reading the next installment, KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS.
I would recommend IN A TRECHEROUS COURT to fans of historical fiction/mystery who like a good romance included. I give it 3.75 out of 5 stars.
SOURCE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.