Following her perilous fall from a throne she'd scarcely owned to begin with, Mary, Queen of Scots, has fled to England, hoping her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, will grant her asylum. But now Mary has her sights on the English crown, and Elizabeth enlists her most trusted subjects to protect it.
Justine Thornleigh is delighting in the thrill of Queen Elizabeth's visit to her family's estate when the festivities are cut short by Mary's arrival. To Justine's surprise, the Thornleighs appoint her to serve as a spy in Mary's court. But bearing the guise of a lady-in-waiting is not Justine's only secret. The weight of her task is doubled by fears of revealing to her fiancé that she is in truth the daughter of his family's greatest rival. Duty-bound, Justine must sacrifice love as she navigates a deadly labyrinth of betrayal that could lead to the end of Elizabeth's fledgling reign. . .
Compelling and inventive, Blood Between Queens artfully blends history's most intriguing figures with unforgettable characters, bringing to dazzling life the fascinating Tudor era.
"Colorful descriptions, accurate details and exciting twists. . .designed to keep readers' attention." --Romantic Times on The Queen's Captive
"Unfurls a complex and fast-paced plot, mixing history with vibrant characters." --Publishers Weekly on The King's Daughter
"Riveting, heady, glorious, inspired." --Susan Wiggs on The Queen's Lady
Praise for The Queen's Gamble
"Starts strong and doesn't let up. . .Kyle's latest is extremely accessible for readers unfamiliar with the series." –Publishers Weekly
"Memorable characters, lush historical details, fascinating intrigues, and court drama. History and romance merge, loyalty and passions run high and readers are riveted to the pages." --RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Blood Between Queens
By Barbara Kyle
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013Barbara Kyle
All rights reserved.
The night of the fireworks changed the course of many lives in England, though no one suspected the dark future as hundreds of courtiers stared, faces upturned in delight, at the starbursts of crimson and gold that lit up the terraces and pleasure grounds of Rosethorn House, the country home of Richard, Baron Thornleigh. That night, no one was more proud to belong to the baron's family than his eighteen-year-old ward, Justine Thornleigh; she had no idea that she would soon cause a deadly division in the family and ignite a struggle between two queens. Yet she was already, innocently, on a divergent path, for as Lord and Lady Thornleigh and their multitude of guests watched the dazzle of fireworks honoring the spring visit of Queen Elizabeth, Justine was hurrying away from the public gaiety. Someone had asked to meet her in private.
"Who is it, Timothy?" she had asked the footman when he reached her beside the goldfish pond. She was shepherding three of Lord Thornleigh's grandchildren in a game of tag and had to raise her voice above their squeals. They were a rambunctious trio, excited at being allowed to stay up late for the revels.
"I know not, my lady. She would not say. Just asked for you."
"Behave yourselves," she told the little ones. "Katherine, watch them, will you?" The eight-year-old took an instant tyrannical pleasure in ordering her brother and cousin to sit.
Justine hurried along the path through the knot garden crowded with strolling courtiers. She was hurrying because she wanted to get the interview over with quickly, whoever it was. She had something more exciting on her mind. She'd been told that Lord Thornleigh's nephew, Will Croft, was somewhere among the guests. An ambitious law student, Will was never far from his patron, Sir William Cecil, and Cecil, the Queen's most trusted councilor, was never far from her court. Tonight, most of the court was here at Rosethorn. Justine was determined that as soon as she had fulfilled her promise to entertain the children, and their nursemaid had taken them off to bed, she would find Will in the throng. One word from him, one look even, would thrill her more than all the fireworks in the kingdom.
Nevertheless she slowed, a little in awe, as she passed the open-air banqueting pavilion where the Queen was making merry with her hosts and closest courtiers. Justine had never spoken to Queen Elizabeth face-to-face, an honor she hoped one day to be worthy of, and it was thrilling to see her bantering with Lord and Lady Thornleigh. The three were old friends. Naturally, Justine thought with a glow of pride, for no monarch could ask for a more loyal nobleman than Lord Thornleigh. So commanding a man, tall, erect, with his close cropped iron-gray hair and the leather patch over his lost eye while his good eye, a blazing blue, missed nothing around him. Lady Thornleigh, elegant and gracious as ever, would always have Justine's affection and respect, but his lordship had Justine's love.
And what magnificent entertainment he had laid on for the Queen! The pavilion, built for her visit, was on a raised platform to give her the best view. Its canopy of scarlet silk rippled faintly in the breeze, and torches flared around it. The vista she looked out on was a dazzle of fire and water. On the terraces, fountains shot up bursts of wine that sparkled in the torchlight as if mimicking the fireworks. The man-made lake reflected the torch flames that ringed its shores. Windows in the four-story house appeared ablaze as they, in turn, reflected the burnished lake. Even the crowd shimmered, Justine thought, all the lords and ladies in their satins and silks of every jewel hue. She hoped her own finery did justice to the family; she had carefully chosen a velvet gown of cornflower blue spangled with silver stars. Lady Thornleigh had approved it for the grand event and Justine knew the color set off her fair hair well. Yet she felt a pang of regret, as she often did, at looking so unlike a Thornleigh. Her ladyship and her daughter and stepson and all their children were dark-haired, and Justine often wished that her own hair was not so brightly blond nor her eyes so very blue. Still, she took a secret delight in sharing that blue trait with Lord Thornleigh. It made her feel as though she alone was his daughter.
Trumpeters blared a fanfare. Drummers rumbled a drum roll. A signal that the next fireworks fusillade would be the crowning event? Every guest looked to Queen Elizabeth, and so did Justine. Slender at thirty-four, dressed in lustrous black and white satin, her red hair studded with pearls, Elizabeth stepped closer to the pavilion's rose-wrapped railing to watch, a wineglass in her hand. The barrage that followed was stunning: twelve cannon boomed from earthen ramparts, shooting balls of fire high into the blackness. Justine felt the ground tremble from the blasts. People cheered. She caught the expectant looks of Lord and Lady Thornleigh standing beside their royal guest. Had this magnificent display they had arranged been worth the enormous expense?
The Queen quaffed back the last of her wine. She rapped the goblet against the railing and the bowl of the glass shattered. She stuck the broken stem in her mouth, then grinned. Sugar glass.
Courtiers around her followed suit, smashing their glasses in a shower of brittle sugar and munching the shards that their servants scrambled to retrieve. The Queen threw back her head and laughed. Lord and Lady Thornleigh beamed.
Definitely worth the expense, Justine thought with a smile.
Once past the Queen's pavilion she hurried on up the crowded terrace steps, making for Lady Thornleigh's rose garden, where the unnamed guest was waiting. The rose garden lay at the far side of the terrace, beyond the torches, and she could make out no figure yet in its shadows. Who could want to see her? She recalled that a place for a lady-in-waiting to the Queen had recently opened up. Could this visitor be the widowed Lady Denny come to solicit her to get Lady Thornleigh to put her daughter's name before the Queen? Or could it be the scholar's wife from Oxford who had grabbed her sleeve on the Whitehall Palace wharf at Lent, asking her to recommend her son as a tutor to Lord Thornleigh's eldest grandson? Justine was determined to protect her guardians from excessive demands on their largesse. She would take Lady Thornleigh only the petitions of the deserving.
Another fusillade of fireworks burst behind her with such a mighty noise, a whoosh like a thousand arrows let fly, she stopped and looked up. Five enormous bursts of fire hung suspended for a moment, then rained down in a shower of gold. Justine had to admire the wild beauty of it. It was as if the stars were falling from the sky. It gave her goose bumps, for it seemed to herald success with her vow to speak to Will before the night was out. This time, she would let him know her heart. Unmaidenly behavior, no doubt, but she didn't care.
She had loved Will Croft from the moment she first saw him. Eight years ago when Lord Thornleigh had brought her into his London home, she was a frightened ten-year-old whose world had been devastated. Bewildered and withdrawn, she had responded to Lord and Lady Thornleighs' gentle questions with tight one-word answers, for although they were kindness itself, she had so much anxiety knotted up inside her, she was afraid to open her mouth lest her fears shoot out in words and turn these good people against her. They had taken her in, telling everyone she was the orphan of a distant Thornleigh relation. No one beyond the immediate family knew the truth: that she was the child of a traitor. One evening, creeping into the parlor as the family went into the great hall for supper, Justine had
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Justine Grenville, the ward of Richard Thornleigh, is tasked with a very important mission on behalf of Elizabeth I. She must befriend Elizabeth’s cousin Mary, Queen of Scots and report back any suspicious behavior. To do this will win her great favor with her betrothed, Will Thornleigh. She must prove that she is a loyal Protestant and deny her Catholic upbringing. After someone from her past makes an appearance, her faith is put to the test. Though the characters are engaging, the plot line was a bit predictable. It did however have everything that I love about a good Tudor novel, schemes and betrayal. Each page brought the reader further into the intrigue but also at times got a bit complicated with the abundance of characters that come in and out and obviously have a back story but this being the fifth novel the reader is unaware exactly what it is. Even with the few downsides to Blood Between Queens, I would still recommend this to all Tudor era readers. The blend of historical facts and Barbara Kyle’s imagination flows seamlessly and at times you can picture yourself standing in the halls alongside Elizabeth I.
I enjoyed this book very much. It was interesting to read about the intrigue that occurred during the period when Mary, Queen of Scots, was a captive in England during Elizabeth I's reign. Elizabeth's throne was not as secure as some would believe and the people around Elizabeth protected her very well. If you like this period in England history, you will enjoy this book.
I've had a habit lately of agreeing to historical fiction that is part of a series. Series that I haven't read any of the previous books. In this case it was a positive experience. Not once did I feel lost because I hadn't read the previous books. And now, I would like to go back and read them. I think Justine might be my favorite character in this book. She's just the right mixture of naive, loving, and adventurous to spark my curiosity. She blindly believes the good in people almost to a fault. Odd considering she's the daughter of a known traitor. I really expected her to be much more cautious. But, she's a young girl in love and I think that skews her judgement a little bit. Everybody around her manages to manipulate her to justify their own means. I really enjoyed the chains of events. There's a lot of fact woven in with fiction to the point that the entire story seems plausible. Plus, the interactions between Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary greatly intrigue me. It's amazing to me that its seems Queen Mary never stopped at conspiring to overthrow and even kill her cousin. Yet, Queen Elizabeth was so hesitant to harm her in any way. Queen Mary was very good in this book at casting blame anywhere else but herself. There are a few instance that I really wanted to say "yeah right," but the story would not have worked without those events. So, I let them go at face value. Overall I really just enjoyed the story. I would like to go back and read the previous books in this series.
BLOOD BETWEEN QUEENS by Barbara Kyle is a riveting Historical fiction set in England. The tale of two Queens, Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth of England. Mary fleds to England in hopes Queen Elizabeth will grant her sanction. What happens than is only part of the story.....Filled with spies, danger, jealousy, betrayal,rivalry,intrigue,and history. Ms. Kyle blends history with intrigue and romance. A great read for anyone who enjoys history, England, the Tudor era,and intrigue. You don't want to miss this thrilling and intriguing story of the Two Queens. Received for an honest review from the publisher. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: MILD REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Review courtesy My Book Addiction and More
When I first got the tour invite for this book I was so excited. I've been meaning to read the Thornleigh series by Barbara Kyle for a few years now and I had told myself that I would read the whole series in preparation for this tour unfortunately other books got in the way so I've only read Blood Between Queens and now I have to peddle backwards and read the preceding books to this one. All that being said, I really, really loved Blood Between Queens and for me I thought it read perfectly well as a standalone but it piqued my curiosity to the point that I now have the rest of the series on hold at my local library. Barbara Kyle wrote a fantastic novel set in the Tudor era which is still something of a mystery to me. I've read some books set in this time period but never have I read a book quite like this one and that was part of what endeared the book to me because I love coming across something new and different to curl up on the couch with and be immersed in the pages and escape reality for a few hours and that is exactly what I did with this one. As a first time reader of Barbara Kyle I went in a little hesitantly, which I always do when encountering a new author but as soon as I started reading the book I really was swept away to the Tudor era and into the story of love, betrayal, conspiracy and intrigue. The way she was able to bring together so many elements and weave them into a rich historical back drop with a wonderful cast of characters. I loved how well developed all the characters are in this novel. The way the author was able to use real historical figures and mix in the fiction Thornleigh family of which Justine is a member of as well as the other side characters in the book as well. They were all dealing with personal issues and I loved how many of them were battling their personal demons as well as some demons that are disguised as friends. The plot line was very well written and extremely fast paced. I was sort of expecting the novel to have a lull around the mid-point but she just kept the flow up and I liked that it was able to keep my attention for so long. The drama, romance and the betrayal were the best parts of the book for me and Justine was a great character to have as a lead in this book. Overall, Blood Between Queens has definitely got me hooked on Barbara Kyle's writing style and I'm so excited to read the other books in this series sometime before the year is through. I hope that she continues writing this series because I think the way she brings the historical elements to life is wonderful. I would highly recommend Blood Between Queens to fans of historical fiction with lots of action, drama, betrayal and romance with fast paced writing and intriguing and mysterious characters. *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are 100% my own.