The King's Damsel by Kate Emerson
Publication Date: August 8th 2012
Format: Paperback 368pp
Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"Handmaid. Spy. Mistress. Anxious to secure his own success at the glittering court of Henry VIII, heiress Tamsin Lodge’s ambitious guardian obtains her a position as maid of honor to young Princess Mary Tudor. Tamsin soon comes to love the neglected child, but in the Tudor court, not even a princess is secure. Mary’s father is besotted with the lovely Anne Boleyn, and the girl’s future has grown perilous. Plotting to be Mary’s eyes and ears, Tamsin joins Anne’s service, but the handsome silk worker who is her co-conspirator may be her undoing. While marriage with a merchant is unthinkable, she cannot resist Rafe Pinckney’s embraces. When Tamsin also attracts the lusty Henry, she must choose between loyalty and desire. . . . With Anne’s jealousy growing dangerous, can Tamsin survive the schemes and seductions that surround her?"
Like all of her novels, Kate Emerson has crafted an intriguing and unique tale of Tudor England with her novel The King's Damsel. Told from the perspective of maid of honor Tasmin Lodge, the novel tells the story of Mary Tudor's precarious situation as Anne Boleyn rises in power. Tasmin is sent to live in Princess Mary's household after her guardianship is purchased by the conniving Sir Lionel Daggett, and it is here where the foundation of the story takes place. The bond formed between Tasmin and Princess Mary is almost instant, and it is this bond of trust and loyalty that will propel Tasmin into the perilous court of Anne Boleyn as a spy and informant. Thinking that gaining the trust of Anne Boleyn will be her greatest challenge, Tasmin is unprepared when she becomes a favorite of King Henry VIII, and her accomplice in espionage threatens to steal her heart. Faced with the looming threat of dishonor, Tasmin must act quickly to serve Princess Mary, for not only is her heart in danger, but so is her life.
The King's Damsel is a pleasure to read with each turn of the page. The plot was well formed and flowed with ease as Tasmin's journeyed from household to household. Even though the main character, Tasmin, is a fictional character (she is based on the mentioning of a dismissed damsel in a letter from the Spanish ambassador), her presence at court is completely believable on all counts.
One of the highlights of this book is definitely the portrayal of Princess Mary. When Tasmin enters Mary's household, Mary is just a young girl, and even though she carries herself as a princess should, there are glimpses of what her character is like behind the role of princess: full of life and spirit, longing to be loved and love in return. It is this image of Mary that really helps the reader form a connection with the princess, and therefore gives credence to Tasmin's task of espionage.
The only flaw in this novel- a very minor flaw- is the romance between Tasmin's espionage assistant Rafe Pinckney. The relationship between them was not as developed as Tasmin's other relationships, so it seemed a little random for their attachment to become so significant towards the end. It felt as if there were some key chapters of their relationship to which the reader was not privy.
Overall this is a wonderful book that will delight anyone who has been a fan of Kate Emerson's Secret's of the Tudor Court Series, or anyone looking for a new portrayal of Princess Mary.
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