Review: In a Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener

Where did you get the book? E-arc from the author

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Publishing date: August 2nd

One of the King’s courtiers and commissioned artist Susanna Horenbout uncovers secrets that could mean the end of the King Henry VIII’s reign.

John Parker is one of Henry VIII’s most useful courtiers- utterly merciless and completely loyal. But one small favor for his King pulls Parker into a deadly plot against the throne: one that will test his courage, his resolve, and most especially, his heart.

A commission from Henry VIII should have been the crowning achievement of Susanna Horenbout’s career, but before she even sets foot in England, the talented artist finds herself in possession of a secret that could change the country’s history. With Parker as her only protection against killers who will stop at nothing silence her, Susanna has to trust the dangerous, enigmatic courtier. She’s used to fighting in a man’s world, but she never expected to be fighting for her life.

*Blurb taken from Goodreads* 


John Parker’s mission of the day is to collect a delivery of arrows for the King, and to accompany a Court appointed painter back to London. But he never had presumed that he would be called in to investigate a death, a murky mystery, and a mysterious message which has to be delivered directly to the King. He also never would have bet that he would also lose his heart to the talented Court painter and illustrator, Susanna Horenbout, who is the only person alive who knows what this message consists of. But the web of deceit and danger engulfs them which also threatens the King.

I rarely read mysteries but I do love this setting and time period, and when I was asked to review this book, I jumped at the chance and that it would have been a nice change of pace and genre. I have to say that the characters of  Susanna and Parker were fantastic and very well drawn out. I especially thought Parker was truly delicious, and I was caught by surprise that he was a much earthier and darker hero than I expected from the blurb and premise of the book. Susanna was also great, and I liked how she rebelled against her family and society’s expectations by not conforming to them even though she was sent away by her father after being caught romantically with the family’s smith. Susanna had a great sense of self and dared to explore what was forbidden to her even though there were consequences.

I also loved how unconventional Susanna and Parker were and how they were compared to the courtiers and nobles in the royal court of King Henry the 8th, and the societal restrictions of that time. Parker, a self made man who went up the ranks to the King’s yeoman, and Susanna, a court artist and illuminator, added a different dimension to the usual roles I have read and it was interesting to note they were based on real people too.

For me their romance was  a highlight and the strongest element in the book. Parker was really intense and ruthless but at the same time he was a gentleman and a courtier and was definitely protective towards Susanna, who is in danger due to the message that she holds for the king.  I really liked this dichotomy with Parker,  and Susanna’s honesty and frankness was refreshing too, because she could stand against her own with Parker who is feared by others.   The moment they meet, the chemistry sparks off instantly and I think the love story really cemented their characterization because they both have rebelled or rose beyond societal expectations and  could see why they fell in love because they really understood each other.

However I found the mystery which started off well with Susanna being in danger and then the intrigue following the King and the mysterious message, but later in the book it dragged in places, especially in the middle and I think it lost the tension and momentum of the  beginning.  I did think that it had too many twists and turns and I  had trouble following the plot because it got too convoluted and I think that affected the pace and tension. However the the tension definitely picked up later in the book, especially the ending.

I will definitely pick up the next book in the series because I was really engrossed with the main characters and their love story and I am curious to see what kind of intrigues they would get caught up in future books, because they made a great partnership with this book.  I really think this will appeal to both mystery and especially romance readers .  The setting and characters showed a different side from the books I have read before in this time period. Although I had a few issues with the mystery and I thought that it affected the plot and pace of the book, the romance and the characters of Parker and Susanna really made the book. I especially loved Parker who was a very memorable hero and I am a sucker for darker edged heroes *sigh* – but I recommend In a Treacherous Court if you’d like your historical mystery with a strong core romance. With memorable characters, and a wonderfully drawn out romance in an opulent Tudor setting which you get to see the gritty underbelly as well as the courtly intrigue then definitely check it out!

I give In a Treacherous Court a B-

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