Blood Between Queens

Written by Barbara Kyle
Review by Arleigh Johnson

The Thornleigh series continues with this fifth installment in which Richard Thornleigh’s ward, Justine Grenville, is entrusted with a delicate mission for Elizabeth I. Mary, Queen of Scots, is living under house arrest in England, and Justine, who speaks French and has Catholic roots, is sent as a lady in waiting to report any suspicious activity. Justine soon finds herself embroiled in a dangerous scheme that threatens her loved ones and her very life.

Mary Stuart brought hope to English Catholics, as she was the indisputable heir while Queen Elizabeth refused to marry, and many wished to see the country again under the direction of the Pope. The Scottish Queen, however, had been cast out of her country for her poor decisions, and her reputation was in tatters. The plot that Justine unknowingly abets would turn the tide for the Catholic faction and set a new queen on the throne.

Through the political drama, Justine is also dealing with personal turmoil. Like Romeo and Juliet, she and her betrothed are from families with a history of conflict, and she faces many difficult choices when examining her Grenville roots and her relationship with the beloved Thornleighs.

Fact and fiction are expertly interwoven in this fast-paced saga, with a satisfying Author’s Note at the end. Though it is an extension of characters explored in the previous books, it reads suitably well as a stand-alone and, in fact, piques the reader’s interest in the intriguing Thornleigh family. Historicals based on true events involving royalty run the risk of seeming far-fetched, but this story exudes authenticity with its multifaceted characterizations and believable settings.