"Thomas Howard. Head of a sprawling, hot-blooded, sensual brood. Soldier, courtier, politician, a man of great personal charisma. A phoenix rising from the ashes. Will Thomas's ambitions be realised? Or will the phoenix come crashing down again?
"If I have anything to do with it, we Howards will live forever."
Every Howard, male and female, renowned for their good looks and charm, is born to dazzle at court. Luring admirers, even royal ones ... like bees to sweet nectar. Equally, each member is expected to restore the family to the very pinnacle of achievement.
April 1509. Seventeen-year-old Henry VIII inherits the throne of England. But who sits on the thrones of France and Scotland? Uneasy bedfellows at best. Intrigue and danger stalk the corridors of the royal courts of Europe. Secrets and lies are concealed behind the ancient walls of castles in three lands."
Any Tudor enthusiast no doubt knows about Thomas Howard and his powerful family. They were virtually everywhere during the 16th century, and as Vivienne demonstrates in this novel - they didn't only have influence in England! This novel spans several stories taking place in England, Scotland, and France, and is therefore told through a few different viewpoints - which added some intrigue. Vivienne also wove several different character story lines, and while she introduced us to several people and characters that we're familiar with from history (like the Stuarts (or Stewarts, as she writes them) and the Boleyns), we also meet a few fictionalized characters that she tosses in for additional drama and freedom in her story crafting.
There's a romance element, there are political elements, there's family strife, and there's humor in this book. There are also multiple twists and turns towards the end, which of course I can't elaborate on - wouldn't want to give anything away! Vivienne (who has a Medieval history degree) put her love of the period to good use with obvious research, and she wove many true historical events nicely into the framework of the novel. Some fun additions that I appreciated were several Tudor recipes thrown into several parts of the book - all based on something the characters ate or drank in the previous chapter. I really like when authors do that, and it's especially fun with a historical novel because Tudor recipes aren't necessarily easy to come by! I have a few I need to try out now.
Overall, this was a refreshingly different Tudor novel, centered around a family that don't often star as the main characters in fiction, and spanning enough people and places to make you feel like you were getting multiple books in one. OH, and if you enjoy this one, you'll have more to look forward to in 2020, when Vivienne's second book of the series comes out - entitled "The Lizard Lurking in the Grass".
Anyone who's already a fan of Tudor fiction will no doubt want to pick this book up... and what better day to do it than on its publication day? I encourage all Tudor enthusiasts to check this novel out, and when you've read it you can comment on this post so we can all discuss! It's available to order on Amazon starting TODAY!