August 2011, Simon and Schuster
288 pages, Paperback
Themes: family drama, heaps of secrets, devious enemies, life at court, staying in the Queen's favour, marrying for necessity rather than for love, inner strength, gorgeous costumes, spying, being in disguise, shocking truths, well laid plans, a pet bear, impish servants (the good kind), lots of thrills and humour, tissues needed
Summary from Simon and Schuster
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, Emerald must beat the spies at their own game - which means transforming herself from a country girl into a lady of the court. Can she do it in time?
Little beats a good historical jam packed with different outfits to wear, the heroine mostly doing her own rescuing with help from some good friends (old and new). There's shock after shock which left me gasping for air. There's a good mix between Emerald being safe and Emerald being in danger - how she avoided/escaped from danger always surprised me. Her enemies are devious and will stop at nothing to get what they want - even if it's illegal. Of course there are many legal ways that Emerald was thwarted in her plans, but I shan't say how. From the cover I could easily imagine the rest of her wardrobe from the story's descriptions.
The only reason this is 9.5/10 is that I thought the relationship between Emerald and the hero was formed a little too quickly to be realistic - I laughed when it happened. I'm not much of a romantacist, I'm more interested in the times Emerald looked well and truly doomed and how she found her way out of them. This is exactly the type of historical I love reading.
You can find out more on Karen's website.