Barbara Kyle’s second book in the Thornleigh saga, “The King’s Daughter”, recounts the lives of Honor, Richard, and their daughter Isabel Thornleigh in the year 1554, when Mary I sits on the throne and her upcoming marriage to Philip of Spain stirs Sir Thomas Wyatt to rebel against the queen. Honor and Richard, fervent Protestants with a secret past – they once smuggled Protestants facing the king’s justice out of the country – now face danger again as the new queen turns the country back to Catholicism. One man knows of the Thornleighs’ past because he was a once recipient of their benevolence. Now he wishes to ingratiate himself with the new regime and a powerful Catholic family and so wants the Thornleighs dead to cover all traces of his past. This man, Edward Sydenham, initiates an attack that sends Richard to prison.
Isabel, betrothed to one of Wyatt’s soldiers, ignores her father’s orders to escape to the continent and instead rushes into the London prisons in search of her father. Richard is shackled next to Carlos Valverde, a Spanish mercenary, who has been hired by an anonymous assassin to dispatch Richard in the jail. Isabel manages to release Carlos but not her father, and the two become a team in the effort to free Richard. But whose side does Carlos support, Isabel’s or those of his mysterious employer? Meanwhile, Isabel continues her work as a spy, ferrying intelligence from the French ambassador, Antoine de Noailles, to Wyatt ahead of the latter’s march to London.
This is a solid historical thriller with the Thornleigh family dropped inside real-life events. The intricate descriptions of London and London prisons are amazing as are the twists and turns in the plot. Kyle paints portraits with details so vivid you can easily see yourself running alongside the rebels during their march into the city. I did think the plot lagged a bit in spots, which is hard to avoid in a book longer than 500 pages, but overall, Kyle does not disappoint. I particularly enjoy novels that use lesser-known events (in this case the Wyatt rebellion) to illuminate the time period. The story is engaging, mostly fast-paced, and fascinating due to the way Kyle incorporates backstory, political turmoil, family allegiances, and historical fact. An enjoyable read!
Amazon link for the book is here.