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The King's Daughter

The King's Daughter

3.4 25
by Barbara Kyle

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Upon the death of her father, Henry VIII, Queen Mary assumes the throne after a long exile. Her first order of business is to wed the devout Prince Philip of Spain, creating a powerful alliance that will transform Mary's fanatical dream of ridding England of Protestantism into terrifying reality. And so begins the reign of Bloody Mary...

Even as she plans for


Upon the death of her father, Henry VIII, Queen Mary assumes the throne after a long exile. Her first order of business is to wed the devout Prince Philip of Spain, creating a powerful alliance that will transform Mary's fanatical dream of ridding England of Protestantism into terrifying reality. And so begins the reign of Bloody Mary...

Even as she plans for her own nuptials, Isabel Thornleigh is helping to lay the groundwork to overthrow Mary and bring Elizabeth to power. But none of the secrets Isabel has discovered compares to the truths hidden in her own family. With her beloved father imprisoned by Queen Mary, only Carlos Valverde—a Spanish soldier of fortune—can help Isabel. Now with England's future at stake, Isabel risks all to change the course of history...

Filled with lavish period detail and fascinating characters, The King's Daughter mesmerizes readers as it takes them into a riveting world of riches, pageantry, passion, and danger...

Praise for The Queen's Lady

"Weaves a fast-paced plot through some of the most harrowing years of English history. " —Judith Merkle Rile

"Excellent, exciting, compellingly readable. " —Ellen Jones

Reading Group Guide Inside

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In her follow-up to The Queen's Lady , Canadian actress-novelist Kyle brings a theatrical flair to the 16th-century story of Isabel Thornleigh, a young English bride-to-be who gets caught up in Catholic Queen Mary's war against English heretics. When her father, merchant and courtier Thomas Thornleigh, is identified as a Protestant heretic, he pleads with Isabel to flee with her mother to Antwerp. Instead, Isabel abandons her plans for marriage and stays behind in England to save her father and country. As she spies for the forces plotting to overthrow the queen-including her husband-to-be, Martin St. Leger-Isabel also collaborates with a savage mercenary to free her father from jail. Isabel's quest culminates in the Wyatt rebellion of 1554, the rebel leaders' unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Queen Mary and prevent her marriage to King Philip of Spain. Kyle ably unfurls a complex and fast-paced plot, mixing history with vibrant characters for a brisk, entertaining read. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Read an Excerpt

The King's Daughter

By Barbara Kyle


Copyright © 2009 Barbara Kyle
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7582-6256-1



January 1554

Isabel Thornleigh had treason on her mind. It was hardly the normal preoccupation of a well brought up girl of nineteen who planned, within the month, to marry the man she loved. But Isabel's upbringing had hardly been conventional. And these, as she reminded herself, were hardly normal times.

Isabel slapped her palm down on the open book her father was perusing at an outdoor stall beside St. Paul's Cathedral. "Father, we're late," she said. "We were supposed to meet Martin at the Belle Sauvage at noon. I won't wait for you a moment longer."

Her father peeled her hand from the page. "Why not? He'll wait. If he won't, he's a fool. And if that's the case, perhaps I shouldn't be letting him have you after all." He casually flipped the volume shut. "No, Martin will wait," he said with a smile of challenge. "Even if you can't." He winked at her with his one good eye.

Isabel felt a blush flare her cheeks. She looked down, letting the furred hood of her cloak hide her face. A stupid reflex, she told herself; no one else was watching.

They were standing in the part of the busy churchyard where bookstalls were snugged between the cathedral buttresses and against the precinct's wall. The churchyard hummed with the drone of trade. Men and women strolled and haggled. Sellers coaxed, buyers dithered. It was a clear, bright afternoon in the middle of January and half of London seemed to be milling through the churchyard, energized by the reprieve of sunshine after ten days of snow, sleet, and fog. A scrawny woman on a donkey harangued the browsers clogging her way, shouting abuse at them with surprising vigor. A yapping spaniel chased a sparrow and almost caught it. Everyone seemed enlivened and purposeful. But Isabel was afraid her father would never move on. She watched, exasperated, as his gaze roamed over a set of Chaucer's works as if he had all the time in the world. "Besides," he said, fingering the spine of an Herbal with an exaggerated show of procrastination, "I can't go back to the inn without finding that volume your mother asked for."

"The Cosmographia?" Isabel asked slyly. She pulled from her cloak the very book. "I've just bought it for her." She held it up, victorious. "Now can we go?"

Richard Thornleigh smiled, acknowledging defeat, and before he could muster another defense Isabel steered him out of the honeycomb of stalls. But at the last one, a display of religious books and tracts, he dug in his heels and cried "Ah!" with extravagant delight. Isabel groaned as he lifted the book that had caught his eye, a massive volume entitled The Whole Duty of Woman.

"A wedding gift, Bel?" he teased. He leafed through the pages, simpering and sighing in a schoolboy's parody of an ecstatic bride. More than six feet tall, looming over Isabel with his sea-weathered skin, storm-gray hair, and a leather patch on his blinded eye, he looked instead like a bridegroom's worst nightmare. Isabel could not help herself — she laughed. Loudly enough to make heads turn. The earnest buyers of religious instruction were not amused, and that made Isabel laugh more.

Thornleigh chuckled. "Well, I can see this weighty tome is what you'd really like," he said.

Isabel saw his delight at teasing her glitter in his eye, its color mirroring her own eyes, cobalt blue. She had inherited that from him; her dark hair from her mother. But there the similarity with her parents ended, a fact that Isabel noted with relief. She loved her mother and father, but they lived such quiet lives, so retired, so dull. She wanted far more from life. And with Martin St. Leger she was going to have it.

Thornleigh pretended to stagger under the book's weight. "Hefty, though," he said. "An awful lot of duty here. We'll have to have it specially carted home for the wedding."

"There won't be time," Isabel said, still smiling.

"How's that?" He was setting the book down under the bookseller's frosty glare.

"It's in three weeks," she reminded him.

"What is?"

She rolled her eyes. "The wedding, Father."

Thornleigh looked surprised. "Is it? So soon?"

Isabel watched the mirth drain from his face and uneasiness flood in. She always thought of her father as a hardy, handsome man despite his fifty-five years, but this sudden wash of worry seemed to bring into unkind relief all his age and cares. "Father, what is it?"

He hesitated. "It's just that —" He smiled gently. "That you really are in a hurry."

His smile was fleeting. "Like Queen Mary," he murmured. "They say she prays every day for good weather to send the Prince to her."

It was Isabel's turn to hesitate. Should she confide in him about the exciting, secret plans? No, she had promised silence. "Then the weather had better oblige soon," she said with mild scorn for the Queen, "for she'll refuse to be married in Lent. Besides, she's almost forty, for heaven's sake. At her age she mustn't wait."

Thornleigh laughed, his good humor rushing back. "Oh, yes, Her Majesty is ancient." He grasped his daughter's arm. "Come on, let's meet Martin."

They pushed their way out of St. Paul's crowded precincts. Under the shadow of its great spire they headed west along Paternoster Row, equally crowded with strolling shoppers, gossiping priests, wandering dogs, and pigeons pecking at patches of brown grass in the trampled snow. Their destination, the Belle Sauvage Tavern, lay next to Ludgate in London Wall, only a long stone's throw from the cathedral. They went down Ave Maria Lane and turned the corner to approach Ludgate.

Isabel heard the mob before she saw it.

"Spaniard papists!" a man shouted. "Be gone!"

"Aye, back home with you!" a woman cried. "We want no Spanish vultures fouling London!"

Isabel felt her father's hand clutch her elbow and yank her aside. Too late. From behind, a running youth thudded against her side, almost knocking her down. Ignoring ThornIeigh's curses he scrambled on to join the angry crowd ahead. On a slight rise in the street, fifty or so people had formed a ragged circle and were shouting at someone trapped in their midst. They were so packed shoulder to shoulder that Isabel could not see the object of their insults. "Father," she asked, wincing at her bruised ribs, "what's happening?"

"I don't know." Thornleigh's face had hardened with mistrust at the mob and he kept a protective hold on Isabel's elbow. More people were running to join the crowd, drawn from nearby Ludgate and from the western gate of St. Paul's, making the scene in the narrow street even more chaotic. From the crowd's center Isabel heard the frightened whinnying of horses and saw the steam of horses' breath roil into the cold air. Then she glimpsed in the crowd the top of a young man's head capped with thick brown curls. "Martin!" she cried. The head bobbed, then disappeared. Isabel broke free of her father's grasp and ran forward.

"No, Isabel!" Thornleigh shouted. "Stop!"

But she was already pushing her way into the dense knot of bodies — men, women, and children — trying to reach Martin St. Leger, her fiancé. She glimpsed his face — was his nose bleeding? — but he instantly disappeared again among the shouting people. Was he hurt? Isabel shoved her way further into the mob.

A gaunt man beside her yelled at the trapped victims, "Get you gone, papist pigs!"

Isabel was now close enough to see the objects of the crowd's rage. The people had surrounded a half-dozen horsemen, all nobles. Their style and bearing reminded her of the Spanish overlords in the Netherlands where she had lived as a child. Their clothing — brilliant silks and velvets, plumed hats, jeweled sword hilts — was a shimmer of color above the winter-drab Londoners, and their magnificent mounts were caparisoned with silver trappings. But the nobles were in a panic to rein in those mounts, which danced nervously and tossed their manes and snorted as the crowd hemmed them in. Beyond them, arched Ludgate stood open. The gate had clearly been the Spaniards' destination. Or rather, the route to their destination; about a mile beyond it lay Queen Mary's palace of Whitehall.

Again, Isabel saw Martin. This time he saw her, too. Her way to him was blocked by a huge woman clutching a child on each hip, and by men crushing in on either side. But Martin was plowing through toward Isabel. "Stay there!" he shouted to her. He lurched back as a man hoisted a club in front of his face, crying, "Down with the Spanish vultures!" This brought a cheer from the people, and the man with the club marched forward. Others fell in beside him. But suddenly a man flanked by two burly youths blocked the aggressors' path. "The Spanish lords be Her Majesty's guests!" one of the defenders shouted. "By God, you will not harm them!"

The two factions fell on one another. Other men barreled into the fray. Isabel saw fists swing, heard bones crack and men yelp in pain. She saw Martin watch the skirmish, his dark eyes glistening with exhilaration. "Down with them!" he yelled. A fist struck his jaw. Isabel gasped. Martin rocked on his feet, blood trickling from his lip. Isabel dropped her mother's book in the snow and clawed around the fat woman, trying to get through to Martin. He squared off to fight his attacker, but was suddenly jerked backward by a hand grabbing the back of his collar. Isabel looked behind Martin. There stood the lanky, sad-faced figure of his older brother, Robert. Father Robert. A man of God, he did not attempt to engage his brother's opponent, but simply yanked Martin further backwards by the collar, away from the mayhem. Martin, off balance and scuffling, was protesting — though whether to return for Isabel or for the brawl, she could not tell.

"Isabel!" Her father's face, pale with worry, rose above the skirmishing men. "Take my hand!" he called. He was reaching out to her, pushing through to reach her. Isabel stretched her arm toward him through the thicket of bodies. "It's Martin and Robert!" she cried as Thornleigh caught up to her. "They're over there!" She pointed to the mouth of an alley where Robert had dragged Martin. Thornleigh scowled. "Come on, then," he said. Together, they hurried toward the alley.

Seeing Isabel approach, Martin finally, violently, shrugged off his brother. "I told you she was out there," he said, then called to her, "Are you all right?"

"We're fine," she called, running to meet him. As she reached him she saw the bright blood dripping from his lip. "Oh, Martin!"

He grinned. "It's nothing." But Isabel pulled off her glove and reached inside her cloak for a handkerchief.

Thornleigh was catching his breath. Here at the mouth of the alley, the four of them were well beyond the fracas. "What in God's name is this all about?" Thornleigh asked with a nod toward the skirmishing mob.

"Spanish bluebloods," Martin said with a sneer. "The Emperor sent them to sign the royal marriage treaty. He can't have his son, the high and mighty Prince Philip, arrive before every 'i' is dotted and every 't' is crossed — and, of course, every royal post handed out to Spanish grandees. The arrogant blackguards act like they own the country already."

"Hold still," Isabel ordered, dabbing her handkerchief at Martin's cut lip. He grinned at her, and she couldn't resist a smile back, thinking how handsome he looked, his brown eyes sparkling from the excitement, his thick unruly curls as shiny as chestnuts in the sun.

There was a scream. The four of them looked out at the mob. One of the Spaniards' horses had reared and its hoof had smashed a woman's shoulder. She lay writhing on the ground. As the nobleman jostled to regain his seat, a boy pitched a snowball at the horse's nose. The horse reared again, hooves pawing the air, eyes flashing white. The Spaniard tumbled to the ground. The crowd let out a loud, low groan of thrill. As the nobleman lay thrashing in the snow, slipping as he tried to get up, a dozen hands grabbed his horse's reins. The horse was pulled among the crowd. Its silver-studded harness was stripped. A cry of victory went up.

People ducked to scoop up snow. Volleys of snowballs pelted the Spaniards. Shielding his head with his arms, the fallen lord hobbled toward one of his brother noblemen who swooped him up onto the back of his horse as if they were on a battlefield under attack from French cannon, not from London citizens. A huge snowball spiked with a rock smashed the rescued man's temple. Blood spurted. His head slumped onto his rescuer's shoulder.

The Spanish horseman nearest Ludgate broke through that end of the crowd. His sword was drawn and he was shouting in Spanish. Sensing escape, the other nobles spurred their mounts and bolted after him. The people in their path scattered, several tripping and falling in the crush. As the lords dashed toward Ludgate a hail of snowballs drubbed them from the rear. They galloped under the arched gate and out to safety, the loose horse following. The few citizens who had been resisting the mob gave up, turned, and ran back toward the cathedral. The victorious faction, having won the field, crowed insults in both directions, after the fleeing lords and the losers.

From the mouth of the alley, Isabel, her father, Martin, and Robert had watched it all. Thornleigh turned, running a hand through his disheveled hair. "Martin," he said sternly, "did you have anything to do with this?"

"No, Master Thornleigh, he did not," Robert said evenly. "We were waiting for you in the Belle Sauvage when we heard the disturbance begin. Martin was anxious that Isabel and you might be caught in it, so he ran out to see. In fact, he's left his hat inside."

"Never mind that," Martin interrupted. He offered Thornleigh a sheepish smile. "Sir, I'm afraid you've come for nothing. The business friend I asked you here to meet bolted as soon as the trouble began. Sorry. Especially after I had Isabel lure you with promises that my friend and I would make you rich."

"I am rich," Thornleigh said.

Isabel had to hide a smile.

"Yes, sir," Martin said carefully. "But the Muscovy consortium really is a fine scheme. Particularly for a Colchester clothier like yourself. The vagaries of markets you face, and all that. I mean, the risk you carry in your ships alone —"

"Martin," Thornleigh said, "leave the Colchester cloth trade to me, and stick to your family's wine business. Even in lean years vintners never suffer. Now look," he said with a glance back at the thinning crowd, "the Crane's not far, where we're staying. You need that lip seen to, and my wife has some excellent balm. And I'm sure Father Robert could use a quiet half hour by the fire after this." He wrapped his arm around Isabel. "I know we could, eh, Bel? So come on back to the Crane with us, both of you."

"Thank you, sir," Robert said quietly, "but I have another appointment." He gave his brother a severe look. "Stay out of trouble, Martin." He bid good-bye to Thornleigh and kissed Isabel's cheek. She whispered in his ear, "Soon, Robert, you won't have to visit Meg and your babes like some thief in the night. We'll make this Queen let priests live like men."

Robert pressed her hand in thanks and gave her a wan smile. He slowly walked away toward the cathedral.

Martin shook his head. "Robert always thinks he has to watch out for me," he scoffed, but there was unmistakable affection in his voice.

Thornleigh was scowling, far from happy as he watched the remnants of the crowd. The women and children and older men had left, but many young men remained, cockily milling after their triumph. A Spaniard's horse harness lay in snow that was pink with blood, next to iridescent blue feathers from a lord's hat. Two boys in tatters were foraging in the litter, and one whooped at finding a Spanish leather glove. Thornleigh muttered, "This was a bad day's work."

"Maybe not," Martin said, "if it makes the Queen think twice about the Spanish marriage. And about bringing back the Mass."

"The Mass is the law now, Martin," Thornleigh said. He made it sound like a threat.

Isabel wanted to get both men away before an argument could swell.


Excerpted from The King's Daughter by Barbara Kyle. Copyright © 2009 Barbara Kyle. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Barbara Kyle, a classically trained actor, enjoyed a successful career in Canadian television and theater before turning her hand to writing fiction. She and her husband live in Ontario, where she teaches popular writing seminars and workshops.

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King's Daughter 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
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miss_dobie More than 1 year ago
Recommended only if you are looking for historical fantasy with, actually, no history in it. If you want real historical fiction of this period, I highly recommend Margaret George and Jean Plaidy. This book is more along the lines of a fantasy mystery. There is very little history at all. I gave it one star only because there were no zero stars available.
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This series is well written in some respects. I found myself either loving these books or wanting to throw them across the room. The author does an excellent job of bringing that era to life. Crucial characters forget key pieces of information from book to book (such as your neighbors are your arch enemies and they know your identity as being part of a rebellion) and the main characters commit the same "beyond stupid" gullible errors too much to be credible in my opinion. One of these gullible characters will be portrayed as the person who helped Queen Elizabeth become the wise woman she became while the author portrays Lady Elizabeth, who was observed to have a formidible intelligence and an acute mind by her tutor in real life, as a shallow girl in need of someone to help her think. There is very little about Queen Mary in this book, I can't tell you about the third book. I'm fed up with the Thornleigh family. They are gullible, shallow people who are only loyal to themselves. If you are interested in Elizabeth try Alison Weir who has researched not just the era, but also her main characters. If you are interested in the romance aspect of this book try Diane Gabaldon's series. At least the characters are fleshed out better and a mandatory forced sex/rape scene isn't written in just for the sake (apparently) of a sex/rape scene.
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This is my first historical read. I had no idea it could be told with such flare and ease of reading. Every chapter and every paragraph have something intriguing or captivating to tell. Not one page is boring, truly a page turner.
VR More than 1 year ago
Overall the book was interesting but didn't really involve the story I was expecting between the Queen Mary and her rival sister for the throne.
rosi More than 1 year ago
i have read alot on the life and times of queen mary, and i have never heard of her saying that she dug up her fathers bones and burned them as him being a heretic. i find some of the story was not true. it was entertaining,but i was a little dissappointed that it wasn't more about queen mary. it was a good story, but i wouldn't read it again or recommend it.
harstan More than 1 year ago
After being in exile due to her religious beliefs, Queen Mary sits on the English throne. Her strategic objective is cleanse England of her late father¿s heresy; returning the country back to true Christianity and away from the abomination of Protestantism. Thus her first major act as queen is to marry Catholic true believer Prince Philip of Spain to forge a real Christian alliance.

As Mary leads a religious cleansing leading to her reputation as Bloody Mary, others plan her overthrow. For instance rebel Isabel Thornleigh wants to save the life of her father merchant Thomas rotting in a prison for allegedly being a Protestant. To do so she ignores her father¿s plea for her and her mom to travel to Antwerp for religious freedom, ends her betrothal, and begins seeking a means of removing Mary from the throne before she marries Philip; and replace her with her half sister protestant Princess Elizabeth. She quickly realizes she is a dreamer with no hope of success until she meets Spanish mercenary Carlos Valverde. Their efforts and others lead to the failed 1554 Wyatt rebellion.

The follow up to THE QUEEN'S LADY is a terrific mid sixteenth century historical that brings to life the religious cleansing under the reign of Bloody Mary as well as the counter insurgency. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action using real events to focus the plot on; while also containing a strong lead female character caught up in the power struggle of the post King Henry era. The romance between Carlos and Isabel rightfully takes a back seat to the tumultuous times that sweep up seemingly everyone culminating in the failed Wyatt revolt.

Harriet Klausner