cover image In a Treacherous Court

In a Treacherous Court

Michelle Diener. S&S/Gallery, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4391-9708-0

John Parker is a loyal servant of Henry VIII, who, upon fetching painter Susanna Horenbout from the docks one day, discovers her hearing the last words of a dying man%E2%80%94words that could bring down the kingdom; Parker tries to persuade her to tell him, but Susanna refuses. "I gave my word to a dying man," she insists; the secret is for the king alone. From the moment of her arrival at court, Susanna's life is in danger, with murderous men coming out of the woodwork to try to kill her. As Parker becomes both her protector and lover, he struggles to discover who exactly wants Susanna dead, why, and how she threatens the king. With their enemies likely closer than anyone would suspect, Parker finds his loyalty to his king and his budding love for this woman in conflict. He may not be able to have both. In her debut, the first of a planned series, Diener cuts her characters from the classic molds: Parker is a violent, loyal loner; Horenbout is one part skilled painter and two parts damsel in distress. Fans of Tudor historicals will recognize players like the treacherous duke of Norfolk and the villainous George Boleyn, but this tale could take place almost anywhere. (Aug.)