The King’s Damsel

Written by Kate Emerson
Review by Cynthia McArthur

The Tudor court during Henry VIII’s reign was a dangerous place to serve, as Thomasina (Tamsin) Lodge discovers when her father and brother die, leaving her a wealthy, underage heiress. She becomes the ward of the odious Sir Lionel, who sends her away from the only home she has ever known to serve the Princess Mary and to advance his own prospects at court. Though Tamsin has never lived amongst nobility, her gifts for storytelling and secret card playing soon make her a favorite with the Princess Mary and her other ladies. Tamsin and the others enjoy a few years of quiet happiness, interrupted only occasionally by the unwelcome Sir Lionel, who has in the meantime forced Tamsin’s gentle stepmother to marry him.

Tamsin’s loyalty to the Princess Mary knows no bounds, so when she hears from the silkwoman’s son that the King is planning to divorce Mary’s mother and marry the Lady Anne Boleyn, she takes the news straight to Mary. Mary and her ladies are thrown into more and more turmoil as Lady Anne advances and Mary falls, until Sir Lionel yanks Tamsin from Princess Mary and thrusts her into service with the Lady Anne, suggesting that he would be a happy master indeed if Tamsin were to get to know the King a little better. But Tamsin has her own ideas about what she will be doing in Lady Anne’s service, and she and the silkwoman’s son set to work immediately.

This was an entertaining book. It was fast-paced and well written, and Tamsin was very likeable, as were most of the characters, save the irascible concubine. I would have liked to see the story tie up a few ends that seemed to be left loose. All in all, an enjoyable read.