From Publishers Weekly
Emerson's third in her series (after Between Two Queens) explores the tempestuous world of the Tudor court in the sunset of Henry VIII's reign. Married to his sixth wife, Kathryn Parr, many years his junior, Henry still has an eye for Elizabeth Brooke, but luckily for her, only briefly, since Elizabeth's in love with Parr's brother, Will, who loves her but already has a wife. Henry deems divorce acceptable for himself but is loathe to grant it for others. After Henry dies, his heir, Edward, allows the couple to marry. Happy for a while, Will and Elizabeth are upended by the unexpected death of the young king and the political turmoil that follows. As Catholic Mary's rule tears them apart, they must decide how much they are willing to risk for love and country. Parr is a drab hero, but Elizabeth's fierce loyalty to him, against all odds, makes the story appealing. The supporting characters are not given enough play, especially the colorful Tom Seymour and Thomas Wyatt. While not Emerson's best, this is a solid historical with a refreshingly willful, sexually liberated heroine (Dec.)
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Bess Brooke is sent to the court of King Henry VIII, where she momentarily captures the monarch’s attention. For a young woman, the aging, bloated king is repugnant, so she is relieved when he looks elsewhere for his next wife. However, life at court is very appealing, and she is grateful to become a lady-in-waiting, thanks to her mother’s connections. There she meets William Parr, the new queen’s brother. As a divorced man, Will has nothing to offer a virtuous woman until his former wife dies because only the king can remarry if the former spouse is still living. Bess tries to stay away even as her heart leads her to Will. Meandering their way through the maze of court life, Will and Bess strive for happiness, battling the whims of Henry VIII, King Edward, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and all who hope to gain power at their expense. Emerson captures the pageantry and the politics of the Tudor court, portraying real-life characters who negotiated turbulent times, and giving historical-fiction fans a first-rate read. --Patty Engelmann