A Marriage Made In Secret

Written by Jenni Fletcher
Review by Helen Johnson

In 1325, as a favour to her loyal but impoverished father, dowry-less Matilde becomes lady-in-waiting to Edward II’s queen, Isabella. The Queen is in France, and Matilde, a naive young country girl, is homesick. But she cannot go home: she must make the best of it. When the Queen entrusts Matilde with a secret message, she encounters Henry Wright, a dashing young liege man to Baron Roger Mortimer. As rumours abound of Mortimer’s illicit affair with the Queen, and of a plot to depose King Edward II, the stage is set for a story about trust, secrets, and loyalty.

This is historical fiction in which the characters live and breathe just like us. Politics are dealt with swiftly, while readers linger over every pulsing heartbeat and tingle of the skin in the lovers’ secret trysts. It’s an easy read, as Fletcher skilfully minimises character count and gory details, while still making the politics clear. And, through the expectations of romantic fiction, history comes alive. Henry is vividly physical, pre-Black Death London hustles and bustles, and life-and-death Mediaeval politics divide the lovers.

Recommended for lovers of romance, and those who feel that while history may change the fashions, human nature remains the same.