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In Emerson's series debut, Jane Popyncourt appears at the court of Henry VII after fleeing France with her mother for reasons unknown to her. She grows up favored, a companion to the princesses and well-situated when Henry VIII comes to power. Her mother dies before she can tell Jane about her past but the opportunity to learn what happened in France appears with the arrival of a prisoner of war, the duke of Longueville. He and Jane become lovers, although her heart is drawn to his bastard half-brother Guy. Commanded to use her relationship with the duke to spy for King Henry, she starts to unravel the truth of her own true identity and exodus from France. Unusual for period fiction, Jane Popyncourt is not the idealistically virginal heroine but a skillful player in the intrigues of the Tudor court, who manages to get what she wants without selling too much of herself in the bargain. It is this heroine that separates this book from the pack. The characters are subtle and well-drawn, though the book is not as sexy as readers might hope. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.