The Queen’s Exiles (Thornleigh Saga)

Written by Barbara Kyle
Review by Elena Maria Vidal

An enthralling, swashbuckling adventure and romance, The Queen’s Exiles is the latest in Barbara Kyle’s Thornleigh Saga. The action begins on the first page, sweeping the reader into the intrigues of Elizabethan buccaneers as they confront the Spanish on the high seas and in the Netherlands. The heroine, Scotswoman Fenella Craig Doorn, runs her own shipping business on the island of Sark. After an encounter with the handsome and dashing Adam Thornleigh, whom she has met once before, she finds herself returning to Holland after many years. There Fenella and Adam, even as they fall in love, become entwined in the troubles of the Dutch people as they revolt against the Spanish occupation.

According to the novel, the Spanish incarnate all that is evil; children are disemboweled in the streets and the devout, elderly Duke of Alba spends his nights at a notorious brothel. In the meantime, Fenella discovers that her husband Claes Doorn is still alive and has joined the resistance, which adds to her own peril. Adam must deal with his Catholic wife, Frances, who to his horror is bringing up his children as papists, even as she plots Adam’s death. Determined to remove his children from Frances’ influence, Adam risks all, even if it means losing the hope of a life with the woman he loves.

I enjoyed the book but was disappointed by the black-and-white approach to the religious squabbles of the 16th century. By portraying all the Protestants as good and all the Catholics as bad, the nuances of character development are lost. Nevertheless, Kyle is a skilled storyteller and leads the reader down many twists and turns so the outcome does not fail to surprise.