This book continues the story of Frances Gorges, a real person, which was started in The King’s Witch. Now, in 1606, Frances finds herself pregnant by Thomas Wintour, who has been executed. She retreats to the estate she grew up on, which is now being run by her greedy brother, hoping to hide her pregnancy. Then Thomas Tyringham, Wintour’s best friend, asks her to marry him. He will raise the child as his own. He’s a decent man, and treats her very well, but as the ‘Master of the Buckhounds’ he is tied to the king and this requires Frances to be in the king’s presence frequently. The king has not forgotten her being accused of witchcraft because of her herbalism, and she can’t seem to stop herself from utilizing her talent, putting herself in danger again.
I had mixed feelings about this book. Frances acts naïve and selfish at times. At one point, she sends her supposedly beloved attendant to gather herbs for her, so that she herself won’t be caught doing it. The aging attendant goes into the swamp, putting her health at risk, as well as risking being accused of witchcraft. This does not fit into the image of her as a caring healer. She takes chances that could have nasty consequences for not just her, but her husband and child. On the other hand, the author’s ability with pacing, description, and plot tension holds just as well as it did in the first novel. Another four star read.