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I Belong

Review: The Spymaster’s Daughter by Jeane Westin

Title: The Spymaster’s Daughter

Author: Jeane Westin

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: N/A

Publication Date: August 7, 2012

Format: Paperback, 416 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451237021 (NAL Trade/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451237026 (NAL Trade/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Michelle


In the court of Elizabeth I, the daughter of the queen’s powerful spymaster becomes a secret agent, and plays a dangerous role in saving her country from its ruthless enemies.

In Tudor England, traitors are everywhere and the queen’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, is assembling the greatest intelligence-gathering network in the world. Walsingham’s only daughter, Lady Frances Sidney, is smart, courageous, and unhappy in love. She longs for the excitement of decoding encrypted messages and setting traps for those working for rival Mary, Queen of Scots. But Frances’s father refuses her any opportunity to contribute to the desperate effort of keeping England safe.

Then Elizabeth, impressed with Frances’s fiery spirit, calls her to court as a lady-in-waiting, and Frances seizes the chance to prove herself. Soon, she wins the trust of her father’s de-coders and begins her secret work, thrilled with the freedom to test her talents. But her peril is compounded as her beauty and wit also attract the romantic attention of two men, one the reckless Earl of Essex and the other her own brilliant but low-born servant, Robert Pauley.

And when Frances uncovers the most dire plot of all, she will risk her father’s condemnation, her heart’s longing, and her very life to safeguard her queen.

Quick & Dirty: Secrecy in the Elizabethian era proves to be a great weekend read.

Opening Sentence: At the sound of rapid hoofbeats drawing closer, Frances, Lady Sidney, lifted her head from a forbidden cipher book.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

As of late, I have fallen back in love with historical fiction. When I picked up Jeane Westin’s The Spymaster’s Daughter, I was immediately drawn to the period it was written in. I adore reading about Tudor England, especially ones of Elizabeth I. Westin’s promise of intrigue and mystery definitely lured my interest, and I couldn’t wait to start reading.

Lady Frances Sidney is the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham, the queen’s spymaster. Lady Frances takes after her father and is a smart, tenacious, and courageous woman. Unfortunately  in this time period, ladies belong in the court, serving the queen, or at home with a husband. Definitely is there no room for ladies of the court to be a spymaster. But Lady Frances refuses what is destined of her. Impressed by Lady Frances’ spirit, Queen Elizabeth gives her a chance to prove herself. She begins secret work, training under her father’s decoders, momentarily living the life of a spymaster. What Lady Frances doesn’t expect is risking her father’s condemnation, her heart’s longing, and her own life to do what is right.

Lady Frances is an interesting character. She is definitely tenacious and courageous, but at times I felt she was too head strong for her own good. I could only begin to understand what life was like back then, but Westin did a good job putting a Lady’s life at court into perspective. I adored Lady Frances. I loved how she went for what she believed in, but within reason. I enjoyed her adventures and day-to-day events. But there were times when her actions and I didn’t get along. I feel that I don’t understand or grasp the time period enough to respect some of those actions.

Westin’s secondary and supporting cast was well placed throughout the story. Each character had an obvious reason for being placed where they were. Some I loved, and others I didn’t. Pauley was one that I wasn’t sure about. He was an obvious plot bunny, one that I enjoyed and didn’t care for. I wanted to see much more of actual spy shenanigans, rather than certain scenes. But this is my personal preference and my expectations.

Westin’s writing was enjoyable. At times, I found the pacing to speed up and at times I felt it dragged a little. In a few areas of the book, I felt that there was too much information, and other times I wanted more. There are little bits and pieces that I found odd, but again, this is mostly due to my personal preferences.

Overall, I enjoyed many aspects of The Spymaster’s Daughter. I think you will also.

Notable Scene:

This madness had started in the coach on the way from Barn Elms. He had recognized something in her face, her eyes, something that he saw in his own mirror. . . betrayal.

Or could he have seen what he wanted to see?

He had to take his roving mind in hand. She was merely being kind to him. And she was a married woman, a queen’s lady, and he. . .a bastard of low rank. He clenched his fists, forbidding further runaway thoughts, though he doubted the ban would last the day. She would come to him again in the night.

FTC Advisory: NAL Trade/Penguin provided me with a copy of The Spymaster’s Daughter.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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