Eleanor Hungerford’s mother has been imprisoned under a false accusation for four years. Even in this prison, her life is in danger as her food has been poisoned. Her only chance is Eleanor, who smuggles food to her, keeping her alive. But Eleanor’s father has arrived back to the castle, bringing with him almost the entire court, including the King, for a grand tournament. This makes Eleanor’s job much harder. However, once she discovers that she is to be married and move away, preventing her from sending food to her mother, and also stumbles upon another plot to poison Lady Hungerford, she decides that their only chance is to run away before the wedding.
This book is set at the time of Henry VIII and is apparently based on a true story. I love the setting because the society that they live in, as well as their particular situation, makes it so difficult for Eleanor and her mother to escape. Jensen has clearly done her research well, only a couple of minor details felt wrong. The two main characters were well written and their interactions were lively and amusing. However, occasionally she uses characters to dump information for the reader. The little brother often announces random info and the mother’s first letter went along the lines of, ‘I watched you out of the window. I have been here, locked away in this tower, for four years. It is horrible.’ Which was annoying, but mostly in the first few pages to set the scene, so if you carry on reading, it stops quite quickly.
Despite these problems, I really, really enjoyed this book. As I think about it analytically, I can see small faults, but somehow these don’t really matter. The writing had a perfect balance of tension, romance and action, and I cared enough about the characters to overlook the problems. For me, this is very rare. Normally I’d be pulled right out of the action, but the writing had me so hooked that I noticed these things, but didn’t even really care about them. It’s only fair to point out that I only noticed these things because I have studied Tudor history extensively and I can honestly also say that this was one of the best representations of Tudor society that I have ever read. Jensen’s writing is captivating and the story is engaging. Definitely worth getting, and I hope to read a lot more from this author.