Tuesday, 14 May 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy (The Marquess House Trilogy #1) by Alexandra Walsh. Sapere Books (2019)




A timeshift thriller that will have you completely gripped! Perfect for fans of Dan Brown, Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse and Tom Harper. 

What secrets were covered up at the court of Henry VIII …? 


Whitehall Palace, England, 1539 

When Catherine Howard arrives at the court of King Henry VIII to be a maid of honour in the household of the new queen, Anne of Cleves, she has no idea of the fate that awaits her. 

Catching the king’s fancy, she finds herself caught up in her uncle’s ambition to get a Howard heir to the throne. 

Terrified by the ageing king after the fate that befell her cousin, Anne Boleyn, Catherine begins to fear for her life… 


Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2018 

Dr Perdita Rivers receives news of the death of her estranged grandmother, renowned Tudor historian Mary Fitzroy. 

Mary inexplicably cut all contact with Perdita and her twin sister, Piper, but she has left them Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire. 

Perdita sets out to unravel their grandmother’s motives for abandoning them, and is drawn into the mystery of an ancient document in the archives of Marquess House, a collection of letters and diaries claiming the records of Catherine Howard’s execution were falsified… 

What truths are hiding in Marquess House? What really happened to Catherine Howard?

And how was Perdita’s grandmother connected to it all? 


THE CATHERINE HOWARD CONSPIRACY is the first book in the Marquess House trilogy, a dual timeline conspiracy thriller with an ingenious twist on a well-known period of Tudor history.




Wow what a read! I was absolutely enthralled by the all the mysteriousness in the opening chapter and the excitement built even more as the story progressed.
Some historical stories can make for dry reading when the author gets bogged down in historical fact however this book was exciting from the get go. 
I couldn't wait to figure out the strange relationship Perdita and Piper had with their grandmother and why she left them her entire estate despite cutting them out from her life. 

The dual timeline made for exciting reading. I loved the history of the Tudor period but I also loved the contemporary characters. I found myself not wanting to leave either timelines when the narrative switched from one to the other.
I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy when it becomes available.

This is a masterfully executed and brilliant piece of storytelling. 



 From tales spun for her teddies when she was a child (usually about mermaids) to film scripts, plays and novels, Alexandra Walsh has always been a storyteller. Words are her world. For over 25 years, she has been a journalist writing for a wide range of publications including national newspapers and glossy magazines. She spent some years working in the British film industry, as well as in television and radio: researching, advising, occasionally presenting and always writing.

Books dominate Alexandra’s life. She reads endlessly and tends to become a bit panicky if her next three books are not lined up and waiting. Characters, places, imagery all stay with her and even now she finds it difficult to pass an old wardrobe without checking it for a door to Narnia. As for her magical letter when she was 11, she can only assume her cat caught the owl!
Alexandra’s other passion is history, particularly the untold tales of women. Whether they were queens or paupers, their voices resonate with their stories, not only about their own lives but about ours, too. The women of the Tudor court have inspired her novels. Researching and writing The Marquess House Trilogy (Book One: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy) has brought together her love of history, mysteries and story telling.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/purplemermaid25?lang=en     

   

                               Extract from the novel

Prologue: Pembrokeshire, 1542

“Is there news?” asked the man as the shadowy figure of the Abbess appeared in the doorway.
“She bleeds heavily. We may not be able to save her.”
“And the child?”
“You must pray, sir, pray as you have never prayed before.”
The man bowed as the elderly nun glided from the room on silent feet. It had been this way for hours. He did not see how she could continue: his beloved niece, the culmination of his family’s hopes and dreams, whom he had betrayed, selling her into a cursed marriage as though she were horseflesh.
How, he thought as the hours passed and self-pity, fear and weariness overwhelmed him, has it come to this? Waiting in such a godforsaken place while she fights for her life in childbirth. He swore vehemently to himself, staring out of the window as another bleak, cold day dawned. The sky was heavy and bloated with the threat of more snow; the frost glistened like poison on the rutted track leading away from the tiny priory. Then he heard a step behind him.
A tall, imposing young man wrapped in a travelling cloak, entered the room. His presence filled the gloomy space with an intense glamour. Even though his cloak had been designed to disguise his status, it was still made from a thick, sumptuous wool and his boots glistened oxblood red. To his side was a sword and in his belt a sheathed dagger. Incongruously, he cradled a newborn baby in his arms, his serious expression softening as his tiny charge gurgled.
“Well?” demanded the older man.
“A girl,” replied the younger, handing his small charge into his companion’s arms, “and a boy. Twins.”
“Twins?” the older man exclaimed. “And…?”
He could not bear to say his niece’s name.
“Weak but alive, as is the boy-child. This little one, though, she’s a fighter,” he said, a boyish grin lighting his handsome features.
“Charles, you mustn’t become attached to the child,” said the older man. “We have no choice but to see this through. If we don’t, you know the consequences.”
Charles nodded, even though it was clear from his expression that he was apprehensive about their plans.
The baby gurgled and the older man looked down at his great-niece. His breath caught in his throat as her brilliant blue eyes, still unable to focus, glanced towards him. Her tiny hand came free from its wrapping and waved towards his face. Instinctively, he reached out and her minute, perfect fingers gripped his thumb. She stared at him for a fraction of a moment and as his heart contracted with love, a name floated unbidden to his lips.
“Elizabeth,” he whispered, and then in a tender voice, almost unrecognisable as his own, “you have your mother’s hair.”
A sharp knock on the door caused all three to start. Covering the space in two strides, Charles threw it open to reveal a slender young woman. Stepping back to admit her, she gave him a small smile then hurried forward, bobbing to the older man.
“She is comfortable, as is the boy. If they make it through this day, then there is a chance.” Her voice was low, determined. “Mother Abbess has informed me that the horses and the litter are ready, sir.”
The older man nodded.
“Take her, Charles,” he said, thrusting the baby back into the arms of his conspirator. “Take her and flee. The future of our very nation relies upon her safe passage.”
Charles gathered the baby into his cloak.
“Until we meet again, sir,” he said. The men clasped hands.
“Until that day, Charles, may God’s grace go with you.”

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