The Queen’s Gamble

Written by Barbara Kyle
Review by Viviane Crystal

Isabel Valverde, her husband, Carlos, and her son Nicolas travel to England from Peru in the New World in the mid-1500s. Isabel’s mother has been accused of murder and is to be hanged. However, Isabel arrives to find that not only has her mother, Honor Thornleigh, been forgiven this crime because of her role in opposing the rebellion of Thomas Wyatt, but she is now a confidante and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. This is a time that will break or make the young queen, as she faces the plots of John Knox’s followers in Scotland, the French who are connected to the Scots via the Guise family, and the Spanish who under King Philip feign neutrality but would help the French in order to eventually conquer England. Isabel’s husband and brother are on opposite sides in a war carried out on land and sea. A secret cabal is moving forward to depose Elizabeth I and restore a Catholic queen to the English throne.

Heroic and cowardly characters do battle in many brave and cruel ways. Isabel at several points has to decide what is more important in her life, her family or her country. This hard choice offers little reward to this feisty character, who risks life and limb to carry out plans that could mean the destruction of her queen and the loss of her son and husband. The Queen’s Gamble offers the reader a comprehensive picture of the conflict among England, Scotland, France, and Spain in the early days of Elizabeth’s reign, as well as that of England’s pivotal leaders. This is riveting, adventurous fiction based on historical personages and events. Reading this superb historical novel will make you want to devour everything else this very talented author has written!