Book Review

Book Review of The Queen's Secret by Victorica Lamb


The Queen's Secret by Victoria Lamb

The Queen's Secret (A Novel of the Tudor Court) is set during a short period of time in 1575 when Queen Elizabeth visits Kenilworth Castle during a summer progress. The novel is told from the perspective of three different characters: Lucy Morgan - a daughter of an African slave raised by a man working as a spy for the queen under Walsingham's employ,  Lettice Knollys  -  the self centered, unlikeable cousin to the queen, and finally, Elizabeth herself.

Lucy is an orphaned entertainer who becomes the queen's favorite and quickly gets entangled in the secrets swirling around the Tudor court. The Earl of Leicester is making a bid for the queen's hand while at the same time secreting off with his lover Lettice. Lucy finds herself in a precarious position. Owing loyalty to both the earl and the queen, she struggles as she finds herself torn between the two.

From the book:  "How could she obey both, but betray neither?"

When she becomes embroiled in an assassination plot, a thread of mystery is added to the story.  Both the queen's heart and her life is at stake and Lucy may be the key to unraveling it all.

I think what I enjoyed best about The Queen's Secret is that it depicts Elizabeth past her prime and the fact that it covered a great deal of material set in so short a time. You get to live and breathe and experience Kenilworth Castle and the surrounding area and see a side of Elizabeth that was expertly portrayed. She's vain, ageing, wanting to love Leicester, but jealous and mistrustful, dealing with plots on her life, tired and never free of the court's intrigue. I wish the book had focused more on her than all of the side-plots/stories centered around Lucy Morgan. Victoria Lamb did an excellent job at making Elizabeth human and not just some "glorious monarch" living a life of pampered fluff.

The part of the novel that didn't appeal to me as much was the depiction of Lucy. I felt she was much less interesting than Elizabeth and that she detracted from the story, especially her involvement in the spy situation. I also thought her guardian was a really odd character. He was both mysterious and a bit overly fond of Lucy. It was like he couldn't make up his mind if she was more of a daughter to him or if he was starting to look at her with lecherous eyes. It was a bit disconcerting. Also, the entire spy plot didn't appeal to me at all. It felt like it was thrown in. Another contrived moment is when a young William Shakespeare makes a brief appearance in Lucy's life. I felt like that portion of the story was just an excuse for name dropping.

As for the world building, Lamb did a beautiful job. She had plenty of description without weighing down the story such as this piece when Lucy is in a wagon with some others on her way to Kenilworth:

"It didn't help that two of the seamstresses were fat-necked, broad-chested peahens, slumped down with clog-heavy feet shoved in front of them, taking up more than their fair share of space."

Overall, The Queen's Secret was an enjoyable book. It's a good summer read when you want to dabble in the Tudor's without a massive tome crammed full of a lifetime's events. It's also an excellent opportunity to see a smaller slice of Elizabeth's life and get a new perspective on her love affair with Leicester and all of the struggles surrounding her decision to not marry him. I could do without the multiple subplots surrounding Lucy, but even those had some interesting aspects to them that kept me reading until the end.

Click her to check out The Queen's Secret on Amazon!

*I recieved a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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