Book Tour Review:The Queen's Exiles by Barbara Kyle

Monday, July 7, 2014
Title: The Queen's Exiles
Author: Barbara Kyle
Genre: historical fiction, romance novelish
Series: Thornleigh #6
Pages: 352
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 4/5

1572. Europe is in turmoil. In the Netherlands the streets are red with the blood of those who dare to oppose the brutal Spanish occupation. A vengeful faction of exiled English Catholics is plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and install her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. But amid the unrest, one resourceful young woman has made a lucrative enterprise ...

Scottish-born Fenella Doorn rules like a queen over a privateer's haven on the Isle of Sark. Her success at salvaging crippled vessels affords her gold and security, and it is on one of these ships that she meets wealthy Baron—and privateer—Adam Thornleigh. Secretly drawn to him, Fenella can’t refuse when Adam enlists her to join him in war-torn Brussels to help find his traitorous wife, Frances—and the children she’s taken from him.

But Fenella’s own bold actions have put a price on her head. Now Adam and Fenella’s lives are in peril as they race across Europe in an attempt to rescue his young ones, defend the crown, and restore the peace that few can remember.

Though the fourth the in series and second Thornleigh novel for me, The Queen's Exiles was a much improved outing for me with this author. The characters and plots that surround Nella and Adam make for more engaged reading, and the romance that makes up the secondary plot is easy to care about and root for with those two involved. I thought the previous novel too concerned with a less-than-charismatic romance but found that far from the case here --- I cared more about the people involved and the romance was handled in a better way. Adam, Fenella, and even Frances make for an exciting and unpredictable story.

Fenella Doorn is a great character and carries whatever portion of the book she is involved with, personally, romantically, tangentially. She's a great complement for a lot of the mainly male cast (exception: Frances); she isn't a traditional female but nor is she an anachronism for the timeline of the story being told The life she has carved out as an independent woman in the 1500's is unconventional but not unbelievable. She's easy to like and respect, and her admiration for Adam is undeniable. It helps that Fenella feels like a new character, only recently introduced into the sprawling legacy and series. The other, more established characters feel weighted down by a history that you really need to read the earlier five novels to fully understand.

The strength of Adam's character is largely due on his devotion to his children, and his overall honor as a man. Everything else is second to him. And while The Queen's Exiles is often a romance as well as a drama, it never loses sight of the real plot or personal goals that motivate the individual characters. Love doesn't always conquer all, and not all endings are happy for the Thornleighs by the time the book is resolved. I loved that the author isn't afraid to be a bit cruel to her well-known and favorite characters -- shown not only by Adam and Fenella, but through the trials Isabel and Carlos face too. 

I wish that the politics angles had been more of a central plot as it was a fascinating time and place to be, or that the ending hadn't been quite so quick, but The Queen's Exiles is an engaging and often exciting historical romance. Well-rounded and well-drawn characters help to make the read personal and memorable.

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