Friday, October 19, 2012

Betrayal In the Tudor Court by Darcey Bonnette

Orphaned at the age of eight, Lady Cecily Burkhart becomes the ward of a rich and prestigious family. Welcomed as one of their own, Cecily is nurtured and loved by Lord Hal and his wife Lady Grace.

As the years pass the family’s devout daughter, Mirabella, becomes increasingly consumed by her religious vocation. But when Henry VIII’s reign of terror begins to spread throughout England, Mirabella’s monastic life is ripped from her. As her life is torn apart, the true reason for her religious fervour becomes clear – her forbidden love for the family’s priest and tutor, Father Alec.

As the family falls apart, Cecily must hold them together. But a dangerous mutual attraction between her and Father Alec begins to grow. Plagued with jealousy, Mirabella unleashes a tumultuous chain of events that threatens to destroy everyone around her, especially Cecily.


This novel  opens with a charming scene of how a small girl deals with her grief for her parents, both dead within a week of the dreaded sweating sickness. Cecily is collected from her home by the tortured priest Father Alec , come to take her to her new guardians, the Pierces.  The daughter of the house, Mirabella, is determined to become a nun and spends her time honing her pious demeanour and flattening any hint of festivity or fun her long suffering mother, Lady Grace tries to bring into their manor house. Unfortunately for Mirabella, Cecily possesses an even more perfect and less contrived character, which over the years proves to be a trial.

Brey, the son of the house is immediately chosen as a future bridegroom for Cecily, a considerable heiress with no surviving siblings who soon grows to love her childhood companion. However, Lady Grace and Lord Hal have their own particular demons to fight, and their marriage deteriorates somewhat publicly. I had to keep reminding myself when the story was set as a dissatisfied woman acting outrageously at a party and nursing a glass of wine all day did seem more a contemporary breakdown than a 16th century one.

I feel I ought to point out that ‘Betrayal in The Tudor Court ‘ does not take place at the Tudor Court. Henry VIII swaps his wives and breaks away from the Pope in the background, although these events do have consequences for the Pierces in that their resident priest risks being accused of heresy, and Mirabella is forced out of the convent and the religious life she believed she was destined for.

This is a story of family, set in a period we find alien today, where duty and religion take precedence over individual desires, but those same tenets are distorted and used to achieve personal ambitions. It’s also a story of love, sacrifice and revenge, and Ms Bonnette has a charming way with language which makes the emotions credible and the characters engaging.

Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England, is being released by Claymore Books in early 2013 under the name Anita Seymour


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