Diving into the reboot of this series reminds me again Ms. Diener's versatility. This is wildly different than her speculative space opera genre or her high fantasy ones. What is similar is great character creation and world building. As a person who hated history class, if history was taught in the way that Ms. Diener presents it, I would have loved it. This reinterpretation of the reign during King Henry is intriguing.
Susanna comes across as just a painter but she is so much more. As an artist taught by her famous father, her attention to detail is impressive. And as artist in this time period trying to survive, she also knows which side the bread is buttered. She is thrown into political intrigue from the start of her voyage and ends up crossing path with John Parker.
John is one of those characters who works in the shadows and he is so good at it. I liked John's character. His loyalty and sense of morality makes him an ideal man for the King. Unfortunately for John and Susanna, the King is untrustworthy and easy to anger. I felt Ms. Diener captured King Henry's capriciousness well. John's understanding of the king and his ability to navigate the political waters helps him survive.
This story can come across as a historical romance. I am not sure that does this book justice. Ms. Diener's romances are almost always a second string to the genre. This plot is well written and focuses more on the political conspiracy and possible treason than Susanna and John's budding romance. I love this about Ms. Diener's books. The romance enhances the story and gives it an added layer of enjoyment.
This historical romance is recommended to Period buffs.
* I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.