Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Mercedes Rochelle reviews THE QUEEN'S COURIER

 Today Mercedes Rochelle reviews THE QUEEN'S COURIER by Jen Black.
 The author has offered a paperback copy as a giveaway to a winner in the UK or an ebook to anywhere else in the world. To be in with the chance of winning a copy of this fabulous novel, simply leave a comment below or on the blog itself. The winner will be drawn on 4th April 2018.
Good luck!

Against a background of political intrigue and Tudor violence, love is not easy to find or sustain. The Queen Dowager of Scotland repudiates it and for Matho and Meg the struggle is made more difficult by an outbreak of war between England and Scotland. Disaster looms for them all.....

The messenger nodded. “All the lords who swore loyalty at Grenesyde in January were present, my lady, except my lord of Lennox. But they couldna agree wi’ one another. If my Lord Arran suggested something, my Lord Angus found fault wi’ it, and if he didn’t, then my Lord Bothwell piped up an argument. The Cardinal strode out in a temper. Lords shouted across the table. The Clerk Register said he’d never seen anything like it, and neither Ballenden nor Lauder could restore order.”

There it is in a nutshell: 16th Century Scotland—a country fatally torn between conflicting interests. This novel brings us into that difficult time when there was no king on the throne and no one strong enough to keep chaos at bay. On the one hand, the French Queen Marie de Guise is desperately trying to protect the baby princess Mary; on the other hand, the regent James Hamilton, Earl of Arran is feuding with the Earl of Angus and everyone else, as far as I can tell. There seems to be little cohesion in the country and lots of questionable loyalties while Henry VIII of England strives to bring ambitious nobles into his sphere. While all this is going on, our protagonist, Matho Spirston—courier, sometimes spy and general helpful servant—keeps finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. At the beginning he is obliged to accompany (and protect) the spirited Meg Douglas partway south as she journeys to the English court; he gets caught up in her lustful advances, even though his heart belongs elsewhere. But Meg’s heart really belongs to the unscrupulous Mathew Stewart, Earl of Lennox, whose introduction in the novel was not flattering. I wondered whether they deserved each other, and was this a real love match?

I came to this book with only a working knowledge of Scottish history, so I had a lot of catching up to do. Henry VIII, by this time close to the end of his life, wants to bring his niece Meg to the English court and use her as a lure to bring the young Earl of Lennox under his control. She is most willing, but is never sure whether she can trust the king’s word. Meanwhile, the English are on their way to invade Scotland in an attempt to weaken their Auld Alliance with France; Edinburgh is destined to bear the brunt of Henry’s brutal policy. Author Jen Black guides us through a very complicated scenario with smooth prose and a story that moves along nicely. The characters were drawn convincingly and I came to care what happened to our hero Matho Spirston. He tried so hard to keep his promises, yet was buffeted about by events beyond his control. That makes for a good protagonist!

About the author:  

Jen lives in the lovely Tyne valley between Hexham and Newcastle in north east England, a stone’s throw from the Roman Wall and with a castle that dates from the 1100’s round the corner. Writing and photography are her main interests and walking her Dalmatian Tim twice a day keeps her fit. She has a degree in English Language & Literature and managed academic libraries for a living. Her father’s family have been traced back to the 1700’s on the Welsh and English border—a place she has never been, but her maternal grandfather worked in Skye, so if ever there’s time, perhaps there’s more to learn on that score.

Friends of Jen Black page on Facebook
or JenBlackNCL on Twitter

Buy links for Queen’s Courier:-

About the Reviewer:

Born and raised in St. Louis MO, Mercedes Rochelle graduated with a BA in Literature from University of Missouri. She learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. Her first four books are historical novels about 11th century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest. Mercedes now lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

GODWINE KINGMAKER available on Amazon US:
GODWINE KINGMAKER available on Amazon UK:

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