Author: Karen Wallace
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: July 7th 2011
Source: Publisher for review (Thank you!)
Emerald St. John is in trouble. She has been condemned to marry a man she hates. Her enemies are conspiring to have her pet bear Molly torn apart in the baiting pits, and the man she loves is far away on the high seas. And she has stumbled into a web of spies with a plot to poison Queen Elizabeth I. To save herself and the kingdom, she must beat the spies at their own game - which means transforming herself from a country girl into a Court lady. Can she do it in time? Set against a detailed and vivid recreation of a great Elizabethan manor house, EMERALD will bring to life a world where the most sophisticated rules of etiquette went hand in with brutality and superstition.
Emerald has been informed of her betrothal to Lord Suckley, whom she has never met, but has heard horrible things from her cousin Arabella. She hopes her brother, Richard would be able to help her stop this marriage, but why has Richard been oddly reluctant to speak to her? Aunt Frances, who she grew up to love like her own mother, and her uncle both seem to despise Lord Suckley as well, yet they refuse to help her escape this marriage. Everyone in the household’s afraid to defy her mother’s wishes, but why? What does she hold over everyone? Deadly secrets are slowly revealed and questions gradually answered as Emerald prepares for her dreaded marriage.
The plot was really interesting; I was curious as to why no one seemed willing to write to Emerald’s mother objecting the marriage between her and Lord Suckley. The mother definitely knew something that Aunt Frances & Uncle Charles would die to keep a secret, and I was constantly guessing what this top-secret was! Turns out, it was something big! And something I never expected too! There was also the whole plot to kill the Queen, but I felt this was forgotten half-way through the book and then at the very end, everything was revealed. The writing also flowed nicely and was easy to read, which I liked!
As for Emerald, I admired her loyalty to her frenemy/cousin/sister. (You’ll have to read the book to understand what I mean! It’s all part of the mysterious secret!) At the beginning it was obvious Emerald and Arabella loathed each other; even if they were the only two people left on Earth, they still would not get along! But Emerald was still loyal, refusing to tell anyone Arabella’s secret. I loved how gradually, the two were able to forget their past childish misunderstandings and help each other in the end!
Overall, this was a light and enjoyable historical novel that will be sure to please readers. It may not be Philippa Gregory’s standard (well…Philippa is like the QUEEN of historical fiction!), but it was definitely a fast and fun read!