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From the No.1 bestselling author of The Last Protector and The Ashes of London comes the next book in the phenomenally successful series following James Marwood and Cat Lovett during the time of King Charles II. Two young girls plot a murder by witchcraft. Soon afterwards a government clerk dies painfully in mysterious circumstances. His colleague James Marwood is asked to From the No.1 bestselling author of The Last Protector and The Ashes of London comes the next book in the phenomenally successful series following James Marwood and Cat Lovett during the time of King Charles II. Two young girls plot a murder by witchcraft. Soon afterwards a government clerk dies painfully in mysterious circumstances. His colleague James Marwood is asked to investigate – but the task brings unexpected dangers.   Meanwhile, architect Cat Hakesby is working for a merchant who lives on Slaughter Street, where the air smells of blood and a captive Barbary lion prowls the stables. Then a prestigious new commission arrives. Cat must design a Poultry House for the woman that the King loves most in all the world.   Unbeknownst to all, at the heart of this lies a royal secret so explosive that it could not only rip apart England but change the entire face of Europe…


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From the No.1 bestselling author of The Last Protector and The Ashes of London comes the next book in the phenomenally successful series following James Marwood and Cat Lovett during the time of King Charles II. Two young girls plot a murder by witchcraft. Soon afterwards a government clerk dies painfully in mysterious circumstances. His colleague James Marwood is asked to From the No.1 bestselling author of The Last Protector and The Ashes of London comes the next book in the phenomenally successful series following James Marwood and Cat Lovett during the time of King Charles II. Two young girls plot a murder by witchcraft. Soon afterwards a government clerk dies painfully in mysterious circumstances. His colleague James Marwood is asked to investigate – but the task brings unexpected dangers.   Meanwhile, architect Cat Hakesby is working for a merchant who lives on Slaughter Street, where the air smells of blood and a captive Barbary lion prowls the stables. Then a prestigious new commission arrives. Cat must design a Poultry House for the woman that the King loves most in all the world.   Unbeknownst to all, at the heart of this lies a royal secret so explosive that it could not only rip apart England but change the entire face of Europe…

30 review for The Royal Secret

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Once again Andrew Taylor immerses us into his atmospheric, beautifully crafted and well researched historical fiction set in the 17th century Restoration period in England under the reign of Charles II with all its political intrigue and treachery. It features James Marwood, clerk to Joseph Williamson and Lord Arlington, the Secretary of State, and the now widowed architect Cat Hakesby, running the firm after the death of her cantankerous husband. Cat's traumatic personal history has left her va Once again Andrew Taylor immerses us into his atmospheric, beautifully crafted and well researched historical fiction set in the 17th century Restoration period in England under the reign of Charles II with all its political intrigue and treachery. It features James Marwood, clerk to Joseph Williamson and Lord Arlington, the Secretary of State, and the now widowed architect Cat Hakesby, running the firm after the death of her cantankerous husband. Cat's traumatic personal history has left her valuing her independence and vows to never marry again, although the unacknowledged feelings that Cat and Marwood have for each other results in a spiky and volatile relationship. Two girls, a maid and stepdaughter, engage in witchcraft with the intent of seeking a death. Marwood is sent to retrieve confidential papers from the home of the now dead Richard Abbot, but the scene at the home with dead rats, leads to suspicions of poisoning and murder and a visit to the home of a merchant of luxury goods, Mr Fanshawe, the owner of a recently acquired Barbary lion, and where Abbot's widow is now residing. Fanshawe is a client of Cat's, and it is through him that she meets the Dutch Henryk Van Riebeeck, the brother of Abbot's widow, a man she feels drawn to romantically, a man inordinately interested in her commission for a exclusive poultry house planned for the beloved sister of the King. Marwood and Cat find themselves mingling within the same circle of characters but from different angles, and which includes the King, facing grave dangers, secrets, murders, and conspiracy. Taylor's rich descriptions evoke the extreme class divisions of the time, both in London, Kent and in France, the stench and the squalor that even the French Royal Court cannot avoid, and the precarious position of women, even women of high status, such as Charles II's sister. Marwood and Cat are subject to the whims and vagaries of their rich and powerful employers and the King himself, they are in no position to own their own futures, and as Cat discovers, it is the rich who so often feel they do not need to pay for her services. In turn, Cat and Marwood are often just as careless when it comes to those who hold a lower status than themselves, although when a devastating tragedy occurs, Marwood and his servants, Sam and Margaret, are galvanised into seeking retribution for their unbearable loss. Highly recommended for those interested in this particular period of history. Many thanks to HarperCollins for an ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Caz

    4.5 stars / B+ The events of The Royal Secret - book five in Andrew Taylor’s series of mysteries set in seventeenth century London during the reign of Charles II - take place around four years after the Great Fire and our first meeting with James Marwood and Catherine – Cat – Lovett.  Theirs is an unusual relationship; they’ve saved each other’s lives and reputations more than once, and both have good reason to be distrustful of others, yet they’ve formed a somewhat uneasy but genuine bond of som 4.5 stars / B+ The events of The Royal Secret - book five in Andrew Taylor’s series of mysteries set in seventeenth century London during the reign of Charles II - take place around four years after the Great Fire and our first meeting with James Marwood and Catherine – Cat – Lovett.  Theirs is an unusual relationship; they’ve saved each other’s lives and reputations more than once, and both have good reason to be distrustful of others, yet they’ve formed a somewhat uneasy but genuine bond of something stronger than friendship, but which doesn’t always contain any of the warmer feelings friendship might provide.  There’s a strong undercurrent of attraction there, too, something neither of them is particularly willing to acknowledge, especially Cat, whose traumatic personal history and unhappy marriage to a much older man, mean she is more determined than ever to never again give up her independence. Cat has taken over the running of the business left by her late husband – a draftsman and architect – while Marwood continues to do well in his post as secretary to (and sometimes spy/investigator for) Joseph Williamson, Under Secretary of State to Lord Arlington.  They’ve started to see each other every couple of weeks – to take walks, to dine, to visit the theatre – and it’s during one of the latter excursions (after Cat gets annoyed when she sees Marwood looking appreciatively at a comely orange-seller) that they chance to meet Mr. Fanshawe, a  merchant and a client of Cat’s, and his companion, Henryk Van Riebeek  (to whom Marwood takes an instant dislike because he starts flirting with Cat.) Marwood encounters Fanshawe again few days later, when he is instructed to retrieve some confidential files that were removed from Lord Arlington’s office by one of his clerks, Richard Abbott.  Abbott has died suddenly and had not returned the files beforehand, and when a visit to Abbot’s lodgings proves fruitless – all Marwood and his servant find there are dead rats – he learns that Abbott’s wife – who was formerly married to Fanshawe’s son - and stepdaughter have gone to live with Fanshawe at his home in Slaughter Street.  Marwood pays Fanshawe a visit in order to retrieve the files, and when looking them over later that day, uncovers some discrepancies which only intensity his suspicions as to the nature of Abbott’s death.  He discovers that Abbott had run up huge gambling debts at the Blue Bush – and while there to see what he can find out, Marwood catches sight of a familiar face – Van Riebeek – although he’s going by a different name.  This fact, in addition to the dutchman’s familial connection to Abbott (Abbott’s wife is Van Riebeek’s sister) convinces Marwood that he is involved in some way – and also that there is more going on than meets the eye; that what he found in the files, Abbott’s murder and Van Riebeek’s hiding under an assumed name are all related somehow, and that whatever links them is far more serious than he’d at first thought. Meanwhile, Cat has been commissioned by Lord Arlington to design a poultry house for the king’s sister Minette (who is married to the Duc d’Orléans, brother of Louis XIV), and is asked to travel to France with the plans and to have a scale model built to take with her as well.  Once arrived in France however, she can’t help wondering if there is some other reason for her presence there – and whether the interest Van Riebeek had shown in her before her departure, had been genuine. As is the case with the other books in the series, the mystery in this one incorporates actual historical events and takes place (mostly) in a London still being rebuilt after the Great Fire. Mr. Taylor skilfully weaves together fact and fiction wherin uncertain political alliances, treachery and intrigue all come into play as Cat inadvertently becomes caught up in the very mystery Marwood is investigating. Although I wasn’t sure what that mystery was going to be to start with – with mentions of poison, witchcraft, a caged lion and disgruntled servants, there’s a lot going on! – I was nonetheless caught up in the world of Restoration London the author evokes so well. Cat and Marwood are complex, flawed, three-dimensional individuals and their relationship – which veers from dislike to affection and back again – is frustrating and well written.  I appreciate Cat’s determination to make her way in an unusual (for a woman) profession in a man’s world, and how much Marwood has grown – is continuing to grow – as a character.  He’s perhaps more cynical than he was, and he’s learned how to play the game with those who are more powerful than he is, but at heart, he’s a good, decent man while very much a man of his time. Excellent research, clever plotting and fascinating historical detail combine to make The Royal Secret another excellent instalment in the Marwood and Lovett series.  I really hope there’s more to come

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    We return to late 1600s London, Charles II is on the throne and our detective hero Marwood is called in to investigate missing papers after a clerk to Lord Arlington dies in mysterious circumstances. Following the death of Cat's husband in the last book, Marwood and Cat have developed something more than a friendship but less than a romance, until Cat's latest commission brings her into conflict with Marwood. If you like C.J. Sansom then I think you'll like this series. Marwood is a man of his tim We return to late 1600s London, Charles II is on the throne and our detective hero Marwood is called in to investigate missing papers after a clerk to Lord Arlington dies in mysterious circumstances. Following the death of Cat's husband in the last book, Marwood and Cat have developed something more than a friendship but less than a romance, until Cat's latest commission brings her into conflict with Marwood. If you like C.J. Sansom then I think you'll like this series. Marwood is a man of his time, which can make for uncomfortable reading for the 21st century reader, the uneasy balance that people had to maintain in order to retain their jobs seems so alien to this reader, to be employed at the whim of a capricious nobleman seems so harsh and yet I suppose many live in similar circumstances today. These books are not for the faint-hearted, I'm not sure if they all share the in-depth interest in the toilets and sewers of this book and the last, but it feels authentic in all its brutality and squalor. I also found some scenes, especially those involving Marwood's slave Stephen, very difficult to read from a 21st century perspective. As we roam from the court of Charles II to Paris and the Kent coast there are plots and intrigues in abundance. I have to say that I have some questions about certain things that characters say towards the end. maybe I didn't truly understand their meaning but otherwise the plot hung together well and I could clearly see the trail of death and motives from start to finish. I was invited to read a free copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. Bumped for release.

  4. 5 out of 5

    4cats

    The Royal Secret is the fifth book in the James Marwood and Cat Lovett historical crime series. Although you could read this as a standalone, it is worth starting at the beginning of the series and seeing how the characters develop and watch the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire. The series as a whole is packed with historical detail and political intrigue and The Royal Secret delivers this in bucketfuls. James Marwood continues to work at Scotland Yard for Joseph Williamson the Undersecr The Royal Secret is the fifth book in the James Marwood and Cat Lovett historical crime series. Although you could read this as a standalone, it is worth starting at the beginning of the series and seeing how the characters develop and watch the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire. The series as a whole is packed with historical detail and political intrigue and The Royal Secret delivers this in bucketfuls. James Marwood continues to work at Scotland Yard for Joseph Williamson the Undersecretary of State to Lord Arlington, however when one of Arlington's men dies Marwood is called upon by Arlington to investigate his suspicious death. Cat manages to secure a commission to the Duchess of Orleans (King Charles II's sister), she finds herself unknowingly drawn into the plot which Marwood is involved with. A must read for fans of historical fiction and crime. Thanks to Netgalley for offering me the chance to read and review The Royal Secret.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Silverboggle

    Another engaging read from Andrew Taylor following James Marwood as he attempts to investigate the death of an erstwhile colleague in mysterious circumstances; and Cat Lovell as she dips her toe into her new life as an independent widow (though not without suitors), and takes up the mantle in continuing her late husband’s architect business. Travelling across Charles II post fire London, into Kent and as far afield as France, the story is convincing in historical detail and well researched. It is Another engaging read from Andrew Taylor following James Marwood as he attempts to investigate the death of an erstwhile colleague in mysterious circumstances; and Cat Lovell as she dips her toe into her new life as an independent widow (though not without suitors), and takes up the mantle in continuing her late husband’s architect business. Travelling across Charles II post fire London, into Kent and as far afield as France, the story is convincing in historical detail and well researched. It is scattered with real events, locations and characters, and follows a real timeline whilst providing the reader with an action and intrigue packed narrative. I opened my first Marwood book three years ago and now await each new instalment eagerly so I was delighted to receive an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. I wasn’t disappointed, and read well into the night to finish this in one sitting! If you haven’t yet tried Andrew Taylor books, then I strongly recommend this series to you

  6. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    This is the 5th book in the series and although it does work as a stand-alone book I do think it’s best to read them in sequence to get the full background of the Restoration period and the relationship between James Marwood and Cat Hakesbury (formerly Lovatt). The year is 1670, two years have passed since the end of the previous book, The Last Protector. Cat Hakesby’s work as an architect continues after her husband’s death and after designing a poultry house for the young daughter of Lord Arlin This is the 5th book in the series and although it does work as a stand-alone book I do think it’s best to read them in sequence to get the full background of the Restoration period and the relationship between James Marwood and Cat Hakesbury (formerly Lovatt). The year is 1670, two years have passed since the end of the previous book, The Last Protector. Cat Hakesby’s work as an architect continues after her husband’s death and after designing a poultry house for the young daughter of Lord Arlington, the Secretary of State, she gains a commission to design one for Charles II’s sister, ‘Minette,’ the Duchess of Orléans. Meanwhile Marwood is a government clerk clerk to Joseph Williamson and also working for Lord Arlington. They find themselves involved in a complicated situation that is full of danger. Marwood is instructed to investigate the mysterious death of Richard Abbott, one of Lord Arlington’s men, and retrieve some confidential papers from the victim’s home. Abbott’s step-daughter, Maria and the maid, Hannah have been dabbling in witchcraft and Maria believes she is responsible for his death. Marwood’s investigation brings him into contact with a merchant, Mr Fanshawe (also one of Cat’s clients) and through him with a mysterious Dutch gentleman, Henryke Van Riebeeck. Van Riebeeck just happens to be Anna Abbott’s brother, and Fanshawe’s son was Anna Abbott’s first husband and the father of Maria. After Abbott’s death she and Maria together with Hannah had gone to live in Fanshawe’s house. Fanshawe is an interesting character, who has recently bought a lion, who he named Caliban, a mangy bad-tempered beast that he keeps in the stables at his house in Slaughter Street. So, Cat and Marwood are both involved with the same people, although in different circumstances. Their relationship is somewhat ambiguous. She is a strong-minded woman, a widow who values her independence in a society where women, although used to running households and dealing with their families’ financial matters, were only just beginning to find a place in society outside the home. And she doesn’t welcome Marwood’s interference in her life. That the two of them are attracted to each other is not acknowledged by either of them – especially, in this book, when Cat finds herself drawn romantically to Van Riebeeck. Her work takes her to the Royal Court in Paris to discuss her designs for the poultry house, although Minette seems more concerned with political matters and Cat wonders what the real reason for her visit is. This is a well researched historical novel, mixing fact and fiction, bringing the streets of London and the royal court in Paris to life. At the same time it presents a mystery full of political intrigue, danger and conspiracy, involving witchcraft, poisonings, and tricky international relationships. It is only towards the end of the book that the royal secret is revealed – and I had had no idea until then what it was. I do hope there will be a sixth book for Marwood and Lovatt.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    London, 1670. Two young girls, Maria and Hannah, plot a murder by witchcraft. Once, “allies of a sort, united in their hatred of Abbott and his tyrannies.” Later, as Abbott is only a memory, one blackmails another. Cat Hakesby carries on her late husband’s business as an architect and surveyor. She is commissioned to build a new poultry house for the king’s sister, which requires her to travel to France where the king’s sister resides. James Marwood works at Scotland Yard when Richard Abbott, one London, 1670. Two young girls, Maria and Hannah, plot a murder by witchcraft. Once, “allies of a sort, united in their hatred of Abbott and his tyrannies.” Later, as Abbott is only a memory, one blackmails another. Cat Hakesby carries on her late husband’s business as an architect and surveyor. She is commissioned to build a new poultry house for the king’s sister, which requires her to travel to France where the king’s sister resides. James Marwood works at Scotland Yard when Richard Abbott, one of Lord Arlington’s clerks, dies. Marwood is set on an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Abbott’s death, and relates his findings to Lord Arlington, Undersecretary of State. Meanwhile, Marwood and Cat meet once or twice a month to listen to music or go to a play or go for a walk in finer weather. It is an alliance of mutual assistance rather than affection as she prefers to keep her independence. After the end of last outing, they don’t make plans for the next time, as they usual would. That unsettles Marwood a bit. “She could forgive his unfortunate liking for low comedy, but not the way he had ogled the orange girl in front of her very eyes. (…) His boorish behaviour towards Mr Fanshawe and his guest had been almost equally bad.” Later, he extends his olive branch by writing her a letter with a plan to see a new play. She curtly expresses her refusal without any explanation. And now, it gnaws at him when he sees Cat with someone he is after. There is one particular person at the heart of this mystery, but there is a lot of deception and some misjudgment, as well as complications. Besides one being dead, another vanishes, and yet another has a powerful friend. It presents some challenges for Marwood. The characters come from different directions and as story develops they interestingly start coming together, as they happen to be related in some way. The plot is intriguing, culminating with a lot of intrigue and a royal secret unbeknownst to all. Written with marvelous prose sprinkled with humor, the characters come alive with their settings, vividly presented and giving a good sense of time and place. Beautifully crafted story and atmospheric in its depiction. This fifth installment in the series reads as a stand-alone. With skillful writing, you can easily follow the characters, which drive this story to the culminating end. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Review originally posted at mysteryandsuspense.com

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    My thanks to HarperCollins U.K. for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Royal Secret’ by Andrew Taylor in exchange for an honest review. I combined reading with its unabridged audiobook edition, narrated by Leighton Pugh. This is the fifth book in Taylor’s highly successful series of historical thrillers set in Restoration Britain featuring government agent, James Marwood, and his architect friend, Cat Lovett. As the title indicates at the heart of this novel lies an explosive royal secret that could My thanks to HarperCollins U.K. for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Royal Secret’ by Andrew Taylor in exchange for an honest review. I combined reading with its unabridged audiobook edition, narrated by Leighton Pugh. This is the fifth book in Taylor’s highly successful series of historical thrillers set in Restoration Britain featuring government agent, James Marwood, and his architect friend, Cat Lovett. As the title indicates at the heart of this novel lies an explosive royal secret that could not only rip apart England but change the entire face of Europe. It opens with two young girls plotting murder by witchcraft. Soon afterwards a government clerk, the stepfather of one of the girls, dies painfully. His colleague James Marwood is asked to investigate and finds that he is not the only one looking for answers. Once again he is plunged into unexpected dangers.   Meanwhile, architect Cat Hakesby (formerly Lovett) has been employed by a wealthy merchant who lives on Slaughter Street where he keeps a captive Barbary lion locked in his stables. His daughter was married to the aforementioned clerk, who had died under mysterious circumstances. Then Cat is asked to undertake a prestigious new commission; the design of a Poultry House as a gift for the woman that King Charles II loves most in all the world. Cat and James spend much of the book hardly speaking to one another following a rather amusing misunderstanding during a visit to the theatre, though inevitably their paths do keep crossing. Andrew Taylor’s historical political thrillers are just superb; combining impeccable historical research with his storytelling skills that brings the Restoration period vividly to life. I enjoy reading of Marwood’s adventures though he is certainly no James Bond and likely closer to one of George Smiley’s agents. I also admire Cat and her determination to be independent and recognised as an architect in her own right. There is great characterisation throughout, though there was also sadness. I really felt for Caliban, the lion kept in deplorable conditions for the amusement of a wealthy merchant. ‘The Royal Secret’ proved a highly engaging political thriller set in this fascinating period of European history. Its publication continues to strengthen Andrew Taylor’s position as a master of the genre. Highly recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    S.J. Higbee

    I love this series – especially the way that Taylor has woven real historical events into his fiction. This latest book does a wonderful job of bringing both our protagonists into a fascinating area of history, involving Charles II in an intrigue that wouldn’t be out of place in a Bond thriller. Once more we revisit the lives of James Marwood and Cat Hakesby, who have now struck up a steady friendship due to their shared past – though it isn’t without some bumps along the road. Meanwhile a rich m I love this series – especially the way that Taylor has woven real historical events into his fiction. This latest book does a wonderful job of bringing both our protagonists into a fascinating area of history, involving Charles II in an intrigue that wouldn’t be out of place in a Bond thriller. Once more we revisit the lives of James Marwood and Cat Hakesby, who have now struck up a steady friendship due to their shared past – though it isn’t without some bumps along the road. Meanwhile a rich merchant who hires Cat to do some work for him has acquired a lion called Caliban. And his daughter-in-law and young granddaughter come to live with him, after a family tragedy. These are the threads that are woven into a wonderful, detailed adventure that had me turning the pages far too late into the early morning to discover what happened. Reading this tale, I was glad all over again that I live now, rather than in a time when a woman doing anything else other than domestic chores drew surprise and unwelcome attention – a bit like that hapless lion. Taylor has nailed the period, which is vividly depicted right down to the clothing, the smells of the time, the food and drink. When Cat goes on a journey, it is more of an endurance test, particularly when the weather isn’t playing fair. No wonder everyone wore layers and layers of clothing, if they could afford it. Meanwhile, Marwood is yanked from his usual duties to perform yet another dangerous, unpleasant task that will derail his career if he is caught, or fails to uncover what is going on. And once again, Cat somehow becomes emboiled in the middle of the nefarious events, so their interests collide – and so often seems to happen to this pair. Taylor’s writing means that I don’t find it difficult to believe how this happens. The climax of this adventure is shocking – and left me thinking a great deal about this one after I’d finished reading it. All in all, a thoroughly accomplished, gripping historical adventure that comes very highly recommended. While I obtained an arc of The King’s Secret from Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own. 10/10

  10. 4 out of 5

    Martin Paul

    As a self-confessed fan of Andrew Taylor's historical fiction, I was delighted to receive a NetGalley ARC of his latest book in the Marwood / Hakesby series, "The Royal Secret". This is book five in the series, and some two years have passed since the events of "The Last Protector". Marwood's star continues to rise within Whitehall, and although Cat's position is less enviable, nevertheless she is surviving and making herself known as an architect of some skill. Their sometimes volatile relations As a self-confessed fan of Andrew Taylor's historical fiction, I was delighted to receive a NetGalley ARC of his latest book in the Marwood / Hakesby series, "The Royal Secret". This is book five in the series, and some two years have passed since the events of "The Last Protector". Marwood's star continues to rise within Whitehall, and although Cat's position is less enviable, nevertheless she is surviving and making herself known as an architect of some skill. Their sometimes volatile relationship has continued on the same lines, and the heat rises further as Marwood's (obvious to everyone but him) attraction to Cat causes friction between the pair and her (obvious to everyone but her) attraction to him causes her to seek out the attentions of a suspicious Dutch merchant. When one of Marwood's former colleagues at Whitehall is found dead in suspicious circumstances, Lord Arlington instructs Marwood to investigate. What he uncovers is a maze of familial, business, and royal subterfuge and deceit. Meantime, Cat has secured a commission from the 'Madam' of France, King Charles II of England's sister, on the proviso she travels to France to discuss the plans. All of this takes place against the backdrop of the secret Treaty of Dover negotiations between England and Holland, and a monarchy rife with plot and intrigue, and concerns about Charles' religious beliefs. In fairness, "The Last Protector" I found to be less entertaining than the previous books - it was sometimes plodding, and predictable, but nevertheless a fine romp through post-Great-Fire London. But "The Royal Secret" picks up and carries us along at a fair pace, with the usual detailed portrayal of 17th Century London. We learn about the rich and famous' fascination with exotic animals, and more about the deep divisions and schemes within Whitehall and the royal court, and even a little dabbling in witchcraft. Fans of CJ Sansom, Antonia Hodgson and SG Maclean will enjoy this series, and I thoroughly recommend it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    This is the fifth book in Andrew Taylor’s Marwood and Lovett series and one of my favourites so far. Set in England during the reign of Charles II, each book in the series works as a separate mystery novel, but if it’s possible for you to read them in order (starting with The Ashes of London) you will have the pleasure of getting to know James Marwood and Cat Lovett from the beginning and watching their relationship develop. The Royal Secret opens in 1670 with two young women plotting a murder by This is the fifth book in Andrew Taylor’s Marwood and Lovett series and one of my favourites so far. Set in England during the reign of Charles II, each book in the series works as a separate mystery novel, but if it’s possible for you to read them in order (starting with The Ashes of London) you will have the pleasure of getting to know James Marwood and Cat Lovett from the beginning and watching their relationship develop. The Royal Secret opens in 1670 with two young women plotting a murder by witchcraft. Soon afterwards, their target, Mr Abbott, meets his death under unusual circumstances. The dead man had been a clerk working in the office of Lord Arlington, Secretary of State, and James Marwood, also a government clerk, is asked to investigate. Beginning with a visit to Abbott’s lodgings to look for some confidential files the man had taken home from Arlington’s office, Marwood is soon on the trail of the mysterious Dutch merchant Henryk Van Riebeeck – a trail which will lead him first to the notorious Blue Bush Tavern and then to the home of Mr Fanshawe, owner of a captive Barbary lion called Caliban. Meanwhile, Cat Hakesby, formerly Lovett, has taken over her late husband’s architect firm and has been given a commission by the king himself to design a poultry house for his sister Minette. Another of Cat’s clients is Mr Fanshawe and through him she meets Van Riebeeck, a man to whom she finds herself drawn romantically. Although she is unaware of it at first, Cat quickly becomes entangled in the same mystery that Marwood is trying to investigate, but with a very different perspective on what is happening. Those of you who have read the previous books in the series will be familiar with Cat and Marwood’s uneasy relationship and their obvious attraction to each other which they seem unable to acknowledge even to themselves. That continues in this one and is becoming frustrating, but I’m grateful that Andrew Taylor didn’t just give us an instant romance that was resolved by the end of the first book. It’s another reason to keep reading the series! As usual with Taylor’s books, the story unfolds against a backdrop of real historical events. In fact, they are often more than just a backdrop and become a significant part of the plot. In this particular novel, there is a focus on the political intrigue between England, France and the Dutch Republic, as well as on the tensions in the marriage between Charles II’s sister Minette (Henrietta Anne) and the Duke of Orléans, the king of France’s brother. These storylines take our characters to Paris where Minette has summoned Cat to discuss the designs for the poultry house and to Dover where secret negotiations are underway. With so much going on, as well as the mystery to be solved, this was a difficult book to put down and I was sorry to come to the end. I hope there’s going to be a sixth adventure for Marwood and Lovett!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Debra Davidson-Smith

    The Royal Secret is the 5th book in the hugely successful James Marvell and Cat Lovett historical thriller series set in the reign of Charles ll. It follows, The Ashes of London (2016); The Fire Court (2018); The King's Evil (2019); and The Last Protector (2020). Five books into the series and author Andrew Taylor’s standards remain impressively high. Combining rich period detail with a gripping story and believable characters. Each book tells a stand-alone tale centred around politics, espionag The Royal Secret is the 5th book in the hugely successful James Marvell and Cat Lovett historical thriller series set in the reign of Charles ll. It follows, The Ashes of London (2016); The Fire Court (2018); The King's Evil (2019); and The Last Protector (2020). Five books into the series and author Andrew Taylor’s standards remain impressively high. Combining rich period detail with a gripping story and believable characters. Each book tells a stand-alone tale centred around politics, espionage and skulduggery, but because of the character’s backstories and character development, they’re best read in sequence. The main characters, Cat and Marvell, continue to dance around a relationship that veers from dislike, through distrust, to reluctant loyalty and affection. They are both complex, multi-faceted creations, easy to believe in as they struggle to understand their own fears and contradictions in a tough and cruel world. I particularly love Cat as a woman determined to be independent and successful in a dangerous man’s world. The minor characters are also remarkably three-dimensional, there are no simple caricatures in Taylor’s novels, where even the ‘baddies’ have credible motives and where servants are as well written as their lords and masters. The book oozes period atmosphere and menace. There are – as always in this series – royal secrets to be protected, dangerous spies and unexplained violent deaths, but this time we also have a dose of witchcraft and a captive Barbary lion. I am madly jealous of Taylor’s vivid imagination and also of anyone who hasn’t yet dipped into these entertaining novels and still has five books to enjoy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amy McElroy

    This time we find Cat and Marwood at odds, although their friendship has blossomed recent events put a strain on their relationship which may see it ruined completely. Marwood finds himself working directly for Lord Arlington and whilst he follows orders he cannot help but think there's more to the plans than meets the eye. Cat meanwhile has been commissioned to work on a building for the King's sister and meets a man named Van Riebeck, she is automatically drawn to him, but what is he hiding an This time we find Cat and Marwood at odds, although their friendship has blossomed recent events put a strain on their relationship which may see it ruined completely. Marwood finds himself working directly for Lord Arlington and whilst he follows orders he cannot help but think there's more to the plans than meets the eye. Cat meanwhile has been commissioned to work on a building for the King's sister and meets a man named Van Riebeck, she is automatically drawn to him, but what is he hiding and why does Cat also not trust him? As events escalate and murders increase Marwood knows Van Riebeck is the key to everything but what's Cat's involvement and can he solve it all before their friendship it completely ruined? I enjoy this series more and more with each book. This one is fast paced, full of apprehension with a couple of twists thrown in to make it a perfect mystery. Taylor incorporates details about everyday life in London making you feel like you are right there with the characters. Throughout this series the characters have grown on me and not just Marwood and Cat, Stephen, Pheebs, Sam and Margaret are all great characters. There are also some very dislikeable characters, I won't say much about them to avoid spoilers but I will say I think Maria needs new friends. As I was coming to the end I had to slow down my reading to savour it more but eventually I came to the end and now eagerly await the next instalment. If you enjoy a good mystery I'd certainly recommend this and you don't need to have read the previous books but I would also read them as they're all great!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    The Royal Secret is the fifth Marwood and Lovett book and everyone’s growing up. I could tell because Marwood got through the entire book with his wig intact and because of this he managed to buy himself a sexy new suit at the end. More importantly (not really) an unloved man who works in Marwood’s vicinity dies and Marwood is sent to collect some confidential papers the dead dullard shouldn’t have taken out of the office. After that it’s a slippery slope to murder, gambling debts, malnourished The Royal Secret is the fifth Marwood and Lovett book and everyone’s growing up. I could tell because Marwood got through the entire book with his wig intact and because of this he managed to buy himself a sexy new suit at the end. More importantly (not really) an unloved man who works in Marwood’s vicinity dies and Marwood is sent to collect some confidential papers the dead dullard shouldn’t have taken out of the office. After that it’s a slippery slope to murder, gambling debts, malnourished lions, men with mulberry hankies, Dutch spies and lying little girls who have far too much easily accessible arsenic. While Marwood tries to untangle that web Cat is building the poultry house of dreams that ends up taking her all the way to France and learning about the shit show that is the King’s sisters marriage. Its all absolutely thrilling. It really is. Marwood and Cat are always best together, I love their pettiness and squabbling as they try to sort out their feelin’s. Feelin’s are hard. I did not love Cat being attracted to “the donkey in a wig” was she blinded by his height? I just don’t know? I don’t think she even did so I was quite relieved when she returned to form and got stab happy. And oh! Stephen! Oh! Taylor really knows how to pack an emotional punch without any flab. And honourable mention for the reworked classic “there’s only one bed” trope. That maid has a lot to answer for and Cat is a saint to put up with her. This has been my favourite so far I absolutely loved it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Cornelius

    The Royal Secret by Andrew Taylor I have read and thoroughly enjoyed all of the books featuring James Marwood and Cat Hakesby but this could also be read as a stand-alone novel. Andrew Taylor is a gifted writer who enables the reader to feel immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the time. It is set in 1670 and centres around political conspiracy, undercover activities and skulduggery. The main characters, Cat and Marwood, maintain a friendship which always seems on the edge of developing i The Royal Secret by Andrew Taylor I have read and thoroughly enjoyed all of the books featuring James Marwood and Cat Hakesby but this could also be read as a stand-alone novel. Andrew Taylor is a gifted writer who enables the reader to feel immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the time. It is set in 1670 and centres around political conspiracy, undercover activities and skulduggery. The main characters, Cat and Marwood, maintain a friendship which always seems on the edge of developing into something deeper. At the beginning of this novel however Cat is troubled by jealousy as she fears James is too interested in another woman; despite maintaining her desire to remain a free and independent woman. The characters are extremely well developed and Cat has carved herself out a role as an architect designing elaborate chicken houses for the rich and powerful and even attracting the attention of King Charles II. There are royal secrets but also elements of witchcraft and a fascinating description of the obsession of the rich with collections; even living things such as the Barbary Lion delivered in such an interesting manner to the docks. All of the characters are well drawn and the servants too are described in vivid detail. I look forward to reading any book by Andrew Taylor and this is a delight and one which I shall be wholeheartedly recommending to others. I would like to thank the author, the publishers and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    The Royal Secret is the latest instalment of the seventeenth century crime series featuring government man James Marwood and architect Mrs Cat Hakesby. During the reign of Charles II, people are being killed as England's enemies try to uncover the secret of a royal intrigue, a hidden treaty. Amidst this high statecraft, the King himself features as a supporting character, his sister, living in France and a client for Cat's services, is a more important one. Settings include inns and humble homes The Royal Secret is the latest instalment of the seventeenth century crime series featuring government man James Marwood and architect Mrs Cat Hakesby. During the reign of Charles II, people are being killed as England's enemies try to uncover the secret of a royal intrigue, a hidden treaty. Amidst this high statecraft, the King himself features as a supporting character, his sister, living in France and a client for Cat's services, is a more important one. Settings include inns and humble homes, Whitehall Palace, the French Court and Dover Castle. The story has a nice note of suspense and menace with three main narrative lines and the period background very well sketched in. Whilst the majority of the narrative is in the 3rd person, Marwood tells his story in the 1st person. I found this distracting. I have read other books where voices are mixed like this, but I think it works better if the bulk of the story and certainly the opening, is with the 1st person narrator. We did not gain any particular exploration of Marwood's interior thoughts and feelings through this structure, though incidents in the plot certainly provide him with many opportunities for guilt and soul-searching. For me, Cat, both in her occupation and in her active role in the story, and her feelings about it, is much the more interesting of the two. Still this is a very enjoyable well written and well-researched novel set against a little-known byway of history. There was a real secret, Taylor tells us in his author's note at the end, and it was never uncovered for a hundred years. Recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Keith Currie

    Going Dutch The latest episode in the Marwood and Lovett series does not disappoint. Taylor, like the best writers of historical fiction, conjures an England during the reign of Charles II, which thoroughly convinces. It is a dangerous place where the privileges of class and position dominate and the talents of those lower in society are exploited and despised. Both James Marwood and Catherine Hakesby, formerly Lovett, fall foul of their social betters, in their different situations and professio Going Dutch The latest episode in the Marwood and Lovett series does not disappoint. Taylor, like the best writers of historical fiction, conjures an England during the reign of Charles II, which thoroughly convinces. It is a dangerous place where the privileges of class and position dominate and the talents of those lower in society are exploited and despised. Both James Marwood and Catherine Hakesby, formerly Lovett, fall foul of their social betters, in their different situations and professions. Neither are Marwood and Lovett guiltless of the same insensitivity towards their own class inferiors. For a time, it is unclear what the mystery is here. We are introduced to a number of characters, all to some extent behaving suspiciously. There are hints of witchcraft, murder by poisoning, Anglo-Dutch relationships, Anglo-French relationships, a pet lion. The author builds up his plot with great care – it is not until the final chapters that the secret of the title is revealed. And is it even true? I love how the author presents the testy relationship of Marwood and Cat; in this novel, one step forward, two steps back. I love how the reader is left with a feeling of ambiguity regarding the role and motivation of the mysterious Dutch spy, Henryk Van Riebeeck. I respect how the author does not step back from the shock of the unexpected death of a sympathetic character. Superbly crafted and imaginative at all times.

  18. 5 out of 5

    GeorgeMonck

    Another superb addition to Taylor's 17th Century series (this is number 5 and the other 4 are excellent too) with Cat and Marwood. It can be read as a standalone but I thoroughly recommend reading the other 4 first as this only adds to the depth of the story. The book involves (amongst other things) murder, espionage, a hunt for unicorn horn powder, a trip to France for Cat, a royal summit at Dover and a lion in a garden. It rattles along with Taylor's mastery at an impressive rate. Expect to exp Another superb addition to Taylor's 17th Century series (this is number 5 and the other 4 are excellent too) with Cat and Marwood. It can be read as a standalone but I thoroughly recommend reading the other 4 first as this only adds to the depth of the story. The book involves (amongst other things) murder, espionage, a hunt for unicorn horn powder, a trip to France for Cat, a royal summit at Dover and a lion in a garden. It rattles along with Taylor's mastery at an impressive rate. Expect to experience the urge to read this quickly as I became invested in the story from the off. The authentic way the 17th Century era is brought to life and the intricate way the storylines converge is wonderful. I found myself learning the meaning of some new words as Taylor's way with the same makes sure your grey matter will thank you. I also appreciated the Historical Note at the end which made me cogitate on many things. Things do not go smoothly for Cat and Marwood but they are there for each other when push comes to shove. I am a paid up member of the Taylor fan club. I hope that this series continues for many more episodes 5/5 Thank you NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an impartial review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Louise Marley

    Andrew Taylor is one of my favourite authors and I particularly love his Marwood and Lovett series. This is the fifth book and I think it is my favourite so far. It can also be read as a standalone; there is a helpful index of characters at the front and historical notes at the back. The story opens in 1670 with two young girls playing at witchcraft. Soon afterwards, the step-father of one dies in mysterious and agonising circumstances. A government clerk known for gambling and drinking, unpopula Andrew Taylor is one of my favourite authors and I particularly love his Marwood and Lovett series. This is the fifth book and I think it is my favourite so far. It can also be read as a standalone; there is a helpful index of characters at the front and historical notes at the back. The story opens in 1670 with two young girls playing at witchcraft. Soon afterwards, the step-father of one dies in mysterious and agonising circumstances. A government clerk known for gambling and drinking, unpopular with his family and in debt to a local villain, it is only surprising no one has killed him before now. James Marwood, tasked with retrieving some sensitive government files from the man's house, suspects his death is not quite as it appears. Marwood begins an investigation, only to find himself - and the lives of those around him - in real danger. Meanwhile, Cat Lovett's architecture business is going from strength to strength and she's been handed a commission to design a poultry house for the woman the King loves most in the world - but is she being used as a royal pawn? The Royal Secret is set during one of my favourite time periods and I love all the historical details, particularly the glimpses into royal life, which is not quite as glamorous as one would hope! There is lots of spy-like intrigue as Marwood tries to track down the utterly ruthless killer. Cat receives an all-expenses paid trip to France (which doesn't go quite the way she is hoping) and there is even an appearance by a real lion. My only quibble with the story is that Cat allows herself to become distracted by a pretty face. I had thought she was smarter than that! The Last Protector would suit anyone who loves a cracking good historical mystery and authors such as Laura Shepherd-Robinson and Antonia Hodgson. I can't wait to read the next one in the series! Thank you to Andrew Taylor and HarperCollins for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Henderson

    Many thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins Publishers for the opportunity to read this book. James Marwood is tasked with investigating the death of a clerk who shows the signs of possibly being poisoned. The case takes a strange turn with the possibility of a foreign man being involved and soon there are more deaths. One which hits very close to home for Marwood. Cat Hakesby meanwhile is called to design a poultry house for someone very close to the King, A commision like this leads to a trip Many thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins Publishers for the opportunity to read this book. James Marwood is tasked with investigating the death of a clerk who shows the signs of possibly being poisoned. The case takes a strange turn with the possibility of a foreign man being involved and soon there are more deaths. One which hits very close to home for Marwood. Cat Hakesby meanwhile is called to design a poultry house for someone very close to the King, A commision like this leads to a trip to France but is there any connection between the two? Another brilliant story in the series. This is book 5 and a welcome addition. I love this series and of course Marwood and Cat. The stories are never just about romance and more on the actual mysteries which is refreshing though a part of me does long for them to get together, Marwood is not your typical leading hero and yet he's refreshing and interesting. Cat is also a strong character and not a typical damsel, she's strong and independant. The plot is interesting and kept me reading, plus the ending was reall well written. I'm hoping for more. A brilliant read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    I am a reader who is not afraid to start a new series in the middle of it or, as is the case this time. with the latest offering by the author. Mr Taylor's book have been around me for some time, even bought two of them, however, they are still on the to-read shelf. Not for long, I am certain of that now. Actually, this book can be read as a standalone as although there are some references to previous books, they do not spoil the fun of reading. The Royal Secret is based on a historic event, nego I am a reader who is not afraid to start a new series in the middle of it or, as is the case this time. with the latest offering by the author. Mr Taylor's book have been around me for some time, even bought two of them, however, they are still on the to-read shelf. Not for long, I am certain of that now. Actually, this book can be read as a standalone as although there are some references to previous books, they do not spoil the fun of reading. The Royal Secret is based on a historic event, negotiations between the kings of England and France. James Markwood and Cat Hakesby, well-acquainted and with yet too independent and too proud to admit their true feelings, get involved in mysterious events and political intrigue. This book offers well-presented historical background with an engaging plot, and although not a masterpiece in the genre, it is an entertaining read for the fans of historical fiction. *A big thank-you to Andrew Taylor, HarperCollins UK, and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review*

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kaye Fraser

    A great pleasure to be back in the company of James Marwood and Cat Hakesby (Lovett) in 17century England. King Charles II is on the throne and is keen to agree a treaty with France and Holland to avoid any more devastating wars. As always there is a cast of ne’r do wells and devious characters wanting to disrupt the agreement in order to line their own pockets. The book immerses the reader in the sights and smells (oh the smells!) of the time and the descriptions of characters and settings are A great pleasure to be back in the company of James Marwood and Cat Hakesby (Lovett) in 17century England. King Charles II is on the throne and is keen to agree a treaty with France and Holland to avoid any more devastating wars. As always there is a cast of ne’r do wells and devious characters wanting to disrupt the agreement in order to line their own pockets. The book immerses the reader in the sights and smells (oh the smells!) of the time and the descriptions of characters and settings are excellent - one is transported to places of extreme poverty and extreme wealth and opulence, with the cast of characters believable and superbly drawn. There is love interest and a clutch of murders too - in fact the book has everything to entertain the reader, particularly lovers of historical fiction. Although it will stand perfectly well on its own, having encountered the main characters before adds even more interest to the story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jill Westerman

    This can be read as a standalone novel but better suits those who, like me, have followed the adventures of Marwood and Cat in Restoration England from the beginning. This opens with Marwood and Cat having a small falling out, which means that they are at odds throughout the book, with the added spice of Cat being the object of another man's attention. She is much more a key focus in this novel as she is engaged to design a hen house for the sister of King Charles II, who is married to the unple This can be read as a standalone novel but better suits those who, like me, have followed the adventures of Marwood and Cat in Restoration England from the beginning. This opens with Marwood and Cat having a small falling out, which means that they are at odds throughout the book, with the added spice of Cat being the object of another man's attention. She is much more a key focus in this novel as she is engaged to design a hen house for the sister of King Charles II, who is married to the unpleasant Monsieur, King Louis XIV's brother. This means Cat travels to France, along the way becoming embroiled in Marwood's latest mystery. The tale romps along at a good pace, with an engaging plot and satisfying villain of the piece. I very much enjoyed reading this latest addition to the series. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Hicks

    My thanks to Andrew Taylor, Harper Collins and net Galley for the ARC of THE ROYAL SECRET. Yet another book I've read recently that I didn't want to end, THE ROYAL SECRET is the continuation of this brilliant series by Andrew Taylor. Cat and Marwood are embroiled in more political intrigue when one of Marwood's former colleagues dies suspiciously and is discovered to have been poisoned. He was a patron of The Blue Bush Club, a gambling den from where Marwood thinks Abbots troubles began, and he b My thanks to Andrew Taylor, Harper Collins and net Galley for the ARC of THE ROYAL SECRET. Yet another book I've read recently that I didn't want to end, THE ROYAL SECRET is the continuation of this brilliant series by Andrew Taylor. Cat and Marwood are embroiled in more political intrigue when one of Marwood's former colleagues dies suspiciously and is discovered to have been poisoned. He was a patron of The Blue Bush Club, a gambling den from where Marwood thinks Abbots troubles began, and he begins an investigation that takes him all over England. Meanwhile Cat has won an architectural.. commission from the 'Madam' of France, King Charles of England's sister, to built a poultry house fi for a princess. She is dispatched to France where she comes into contact with and becomes entranced by, the man at the route of a plot that will overturn the fortunes of England. 5 super stars

  25. 5 out of 5

    Justin Sarginson

    For me, this author is very adept with two things. Historical accuracy, as all his books feel right and in the correct historical context, which makes an incredible difference with historic fiction. I also feel that Andrew manages to write romance really well also, as his books ebb and flow with the back and forth of man and woman's romantic tussles. This book is the fifth in the series and it's as fun as ever. No dilution, no running out of ideas and the central characters remain present and enj For me, this author is very adept with two things. Historical accuracy, as all his books feel right and in the correct historical context, which makes an incredible difference with historic fiction. I also feel that Andrew manages to write romance really well also, as his books ebb and flow with the back and forth of man and woman's romantic tussles. This book is the fifth in the series and it's as fun as ever. No dilution, no running out of ideas and the central characters remain present and enjoyable as ever. I was lucky enough to read this early thanks to NetGalley and it was my absolute pleasure to do so as Andrew Taylor remains one of my favourite authors. Historical fiction has become rather busy recently and Andrew holds his head high amongst his peers.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matt Merritt

    With thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exhcangr for an honest review. The latest in Andrew Taylor's Post-Great Fire series is another addictive mystery as Marwood and Cat are drawn into intrigue between their own nation and those of France and Holland. The will-they, won't-they relationship of the two protagonists could have become grating by now but Taylor has a deft hand for slowly and organically building their bond through their common issues and the surrounding With thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exhcangr for an honest review. The latest in Andrew Taylor's Post-Great Fire series is another addictive mystery as Marwood and Cat are drawn into intrigue between their own nation and those of France and Holland. The will-they, won't-they relationship of the two protagonists could have become grating by now but Taylor has a deft hand for slowly and organically building their bond through their common issues and the surrounding characters, whether real figures from history or Taylor's own créations, are all engaging. This is the fifth in the series and it feels as if we are still early in Marwood and Cat's journey... At least, I hope there are plenty more stops to come.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    The fifth book in this exceptional series featuring Marwood and Cat Lovett. Once again, our heroes find themselves embroiled in political intrigue, this time involving both the kings of England and France. Set in 1670, the historical setting is wonderfully and atmospherically brought to life. The writing is as always effortless to read. The plot is exciting and twisted. But as with all the books in this series, it is the characters that drive the story along and the wonderful tension of the rela The fifth book in this exceptional series featuring Marwood and Cat Lovett. Once again, our heroes find themselves embroiled in political intrigue, this time involving both the kings of England and France. Set in 1670, the historical setting is wonderfully and atmospherically brought to life. The writing is as always effortless to read. The plot is exciting and twisted. But as with all the books in this series, it is the characters that drive the story along and the wonderful tension of the relationship between Marwood and Cat is so entertaining. What more can I say that I haven't already said, I love this series and Andrew Taylor is a wonderful writer. I received a free review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest and unedited review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Discover the locations in the novel The Royal Secret .A real treat for historical fiction fans. The plot is juicy and detailed, the characters very real and authentic and the attention to detail with regards to the history and scene setting is second to none. I never feel I can do these books justice with a review so this is a short one filled with admiration and a thank you to the author for such a wonderful reading experience. Discover the locations in the novel The Royal Secret .A real treat for historical fiction fans. The plot is juicy and detailed, the characters very real and authentic and the attention to detail with regards to the history and scene setting is second to none. I never feel I can do these books justice with a review so this is a short one filled with admiration and a thank you to the author for such a wonderful reading experience.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Cayley

    This is the fifth in a series of historical novels set in the period of Restoration England but knowledge of its predecessors is not necessary. It is set in a context of high diplomacy and power politics. As always, Andrew Taylor has done his research well, but as a novel, the book did not really work for me. The plot was a bit meandering, and took quite a time to get going, and the characterisation could have been more rounded. There was just enough to hold my interest and keep me reading, but o This is the fifth in a series of historical novels set in the period of Restoration England but knowledge of its predecessors is not necessary. It is set in a context of high diplomacy and power politics. As always, Andrew Taylor has done his research well, but as a novel, the book did not really work for me. The plot was a bit meandering, and took quite a time to get going, and the characterisation could have been more rounded. There was just enough to hold my interest and keep me reading, but only just. With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me have an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sal

    I've read and enjoyed all of the books in this series but I found the plot of this latest story a little slight and rather unfocused. Cat ends up as an unwitting courier between the King and his beloved sister, and embroiled in a plot involving a Dutch spy. Her treatment of Marwood and her attraction to the Dutchman both seemed a little out of character. The plot itself seems to take a long time to go anywhere, and then ends rather abruptly. A lot of time is spent on a sub plot with a lion and a s I've read and enjoyed all of the books in this series but I found the plot of this latest story a little slight and rather unfocused. Cat ends up as an unwitting courier between the King and his beloved sister, and embroiled in a plot involving a Dutch spy. Her treatment of Marwood and her attraction to the Dutchman both seemed a little out of character. The plot itself seems to take a long time to go anywhere, and then ends rather abruptly. A lot of time is spent on a sub plot with a lion and a sadistic young housemaid that seemed rather superfluous. These are still great characters, and a fascinating period in history, but this one didn't quite hit the mark for me.

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