Book review: The King’s Daughter by Barbara Kyle

In the volatile early years of Tudor Queen Mary’s blood-soaked reign, a Protestant rebellion was an ever-constant threat.

The only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon, Mary’s first act on her accession to the throne was to plan marriage to the Catholic King Philip of Spain, creating a powerful alliance to carry out her fanatical dream of ridding England of Protestantism.

In the second of Barbara Kyle’s colourful and exciting Thornleigh series of historical novels, she takes us to the heart of Mary’s dangerous court where Sir Thomas Wyatt, angered by the prospect of a Spanish marriage, is raising an army to oust the new queen.

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Into this maelstrom steps Isabel Thornleigh from an old English family who are no strangers to rebellion and who will become a daring go-between in the ensuing battle.

Kyle, a Canadian writer with her eyes and heart set firmly on Tudor history, has perfected the art of melding fact and fiction, creating a nucleus of imaginary characters to play out thrilling adventures amidst real-life figures and real historical events.

The first book of the series, The Queen’s Lady, was set at the court of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and here again, romance and drama take centre stage as warring factions get to grips with a country dogged by religion, dissent and politics.

As Queen Mary prays for good weather to send Philip of Spain to England’s shores, 19-year-old Isabel Thornleigh is making plans for her own wedding to the handsome Martin St.Leger.

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Isabel had an unconventional upbringing in the Netherlands and longs to escape from the quiet, dull lives of her staunchly Protestant parents, wool merchant Richard Thornleigh and his wife.

England is in turmoil, with various plots being hatched to overthrow Mary and bring her sister Elizabeth to power, but Wyatt’s rebellion appears to be gaining the greatest momentum.

When her father is imprisoned as a Protestant heretic, Isabel courageously agrees to act as a messenger for Wyatt but none of the secrets Isabel discovers compares to the truths hidden in her own family.

Only the enigmatic Spanish mercenary Carlos Valverde, with whom she has forged an unlikely and romantically perilous alliance, can help her. And with the rebellion and England’s future at stake, Isabel is prepared to risk all to change the course of history...

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The King’s Daughter is an all-action thriller, bringing to life the passion and perils of the Tudor period as well as delivering a romance laced with mystery and authentic history.

Another fascinating chapter in the entertaining Tudor saga...

(Canvas, paperback, £7.99)

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