In her fifth installment of the Thornleigh series, Blood Between Queens, Barbara Kyle is once again in Queen Elizabeth's court. This time her focus is on Justine Thornleigh, ward of Richard and Honor from the first book in the series, The Queen's Lady.
Mary, Queen of Scots has fled her kingdom hoping for asylum under her cousin Elizabeth. What she receives, however, is house arrest, with Justine as her lady's maid. Unbeknownst to Mary, Justine has been put in the position as spy to Elizabeth. In addition, unbeknownst to Justine, Mary is in cahoots with Justine's father, who is believed to be dead and is a traitor to the English crown, a relationship also hidden from Justine's fiancé, Will. Justine is constantly in limbo between her loyalty to Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary, her fiancé and foster family, and her father.
I admit, I didn't read the first four books in the series, but it mostly felt as if this could be read as a stand alone. Kyle gives the reader enough information to know what the previous stories were about, and I really didn't feel that I was missing anything.
Even so, I felt the story ran a bit slow, and it started to read more like an historical romance, rather than historical fiction. The intrigue didn't feel, well, intriguing at first. In the latter part of the book, the pace quickened a bit and I was more interested to see what would happen. The story felt like there was filler that could have been cut out. Blood Between Queens read more like a book that just happened to take place during the Elizabethan era than one about Queen Elizabeth's reign, which would have been more interesting.
Library Bag: This will appeal to readers who like the Elizabethan era, but not to those who like stories about the actual historical individuals (like Elizabeth, Cecil, et al) to take more of a central role.