Book one in the Tudor Throne series, The Usurper's Throne, was one of my ten favorite reads of 2017. Book two, The Welsh Gambit, is very likely going to be one of my top ten new reads of 2018. It's every bit as breathless and engrossing as the first book, and I read the last quarter of the book in one sitting because I just had to know what happened next!
The action in this book centers around a castle in Wales where Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham, is preparing to host a tournament in honor of the memory of the prince who died at the end of The Usurper's Throne, but in the interest of not spoiling things, I won't say the prince's name. Anyway, the tournament means that lots of people get thrown together as they gather to watch or participate in the festivities. Friends and enemies alike mix in the crowds.
Of particular interest to me was the Lady Anwen, who spent months as a tormented captive of Lord Meuric and his brutish protege Beynon. Though they never actually assaulted her virtue, they threatened to do so repeatedly. Anwen is now free, but traumatized. She breaks off her engagement to a wonderful young man named James because she cannot bear to be touched by anyone. Gradually, she finds healing for body, soul, and mind by learning new things and eventually confronting her tormentors.
But my favorite character was once again Sir Thomas Lovell, the sly, devious, but often honorable Enforcer. He spies and connives and bullies, and sometimes I want to slap him. But just when I think I'm done with him, he does something absolutely wonderful and then I'm a fan again.
There's lots of mystery and intrigue in this book. A dead woman is said to haunt the castle, and several characters make it their mission to find her remains. Treason and envy and desire lie at the root of several other mysteries entwined throughout the story, keeping me on the edge of my seat through the last nine chapters.
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for a little bad language, discussions of attempted rape, violence, bloodshed, and some intimate scenes between married people that do not progress beyond passionate kisses.
Full disclosure: I received an ARC copy in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given here.
You can pre-order the Kindle version here, and there will be a paperback edition available soon as well. The Goodreads page for this book is here.