From the publisher's website: Francis Quoynt‚ Firemaster‚ is recently returned from Flanders and dreaming of making fireworks rather than war.
Instead‚ Quoynt is recruited by Robert Cecil‚ First Minister‚ to spy on Guido Fawkes and his fellow conspirators. Meanwhile‚ Sir Francis Bacon is scheming for high position and spying on Quoynt.
Kate Peach‚ a glove maker‚ was Quoynt′s lover before war took him away. Now living in Southwark‚ she is brought into grave danger. She is a secret Catholic. A fugitive Jesuit is concealed in her rooms. While Francis hopes to prevent the death of King James I and everyone in his parliament‚ Kate will have to save herself ...
Sometimes you read a book summary on a publisher's page or off the back cover and think, "Well, that's the whole story, nothing left to read." Not with this one. Reading the above summary from the publisher's webpage doesn't make this book sound like much but there really was a lot more to it. The complexity - so many characters with so many intertwined relationships was both good and bad. It was good because it certainly was interesting but it was bad in that it was kind of confusing. Just when you had things figured out, there'd be a new twist added and you were back to wondering who was tricking who and who knew what when. (See? Confusing!) Adding to my confusion, the book assumed a little more knowledge of that period of history than I possess. I am new to historical fiction (and loving it by the way thanks to the great selections Jennifer of the Literate Housewife makes for our Facebook Historical Fiction Book Club!) so names that are dropped within the story without a whole lot of explanation - Mary, Queen of Scots, Elizabeth, James - probably conjure up more meaning for others than just the vague familiarity they have for me. Even in my state of faintly cloudy befuddlement, I enjoyed the book. The relationships between the characters were interesting enough to carry the story without my full understanding of all the surrounding events. I could gather enough to sense danger, to get a feel for this time period of history, and to figure out who was on which side - even though I still am not certain which side was the "good guys" and which was the "bad guys". But the fuzziness didn't bother me too much and I don't know that I would have attended to a history lesson if the author had inserted it into the story. I probably would have skimmed over it to get back to the people and all their doings. The ending was not completely satisfying for me - a few loose ends that I would have preferred to have wrapped up! And, although I had suspected how the romance would resolve, I was still surprised when it actually happened!
I went to the author's website, christiedickason.com and there is a second book with some of the same characters. That might be fun to read. I briefly considered whether being the first of two would make this title count for the 1st in a Series Challenge and decided that was stretching the truth a bit - which may look more appealing as the deadline for completion draws closer! But for now, this will count towards the Spring Reading Thing 2009.
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