The Sun and Stars
Elizabeth Adair’s first novel, The Sun and Stars, is set in the court of Henry VIII, amid all the splendor and suspicion, the intellect and the intrigue, the pomp and passion that Tudor England brings to mind. Her heroine, Isabel Holland, is the illegitimate daughter of the king, and, though he does not acknowledge her as he has the Duke of Richmond, he is very fond of her. As a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon, Isabel is at the very heart of the court, where she knows the secrets. When her cousin, Hugh, is accused of stealing the famous French crown, the Sun and Stars, she tries to discover the identity of the true thief. Her sleuthing leads her to several likely suspects: the weasel Cardinal Wolsey, his assistant, Thomas Cromwell, and the dangerous Lord Adam Colford. With such antagonists, it is hard to believe a young lady-in-waiting would stand much of chance, even though she does have the king’s favor.
While Adair does a credible job creating the feel of the court, the dialogue is somewhat stilted. And the creation of an illegitimate child for Henry, beyond those we know about, is a stretch, making the entire book rest on a fairly shaky premise. That said, Isabel is a spunky girl, and it is fun to watch her use her talents to solve the mystery.