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The Royal Secret

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Member Reviews

I was sent a copy of The Royal Secret by Andrew Taylor to read and review by NetGalley.  Another great Historical novel following James Marwood and Cat Lovett during the reign of King Charles II.  I always find it so nice to get back to these familiar characters which seem now like my old friends!  Well written and evocative, as we have come to expect, with a great storyline full of intrigue and tension.  What more can I say?  I can’t wait for the next instalment!
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Incredibly, this is the fifth book featuring James Marwood and Cat Hakesby. By this stage the series could be getting stale, but Andrew Taylor, who has the lightest of authorial touches, keeps it fresh and engaging. The plot involves high-level politics, international espionage and a rich cross-section of society, and the relationship between James and Cat, which is always at the centre of these novels, is tested and develops. I’m not a historical expert, but all the details feel authentic and work to draw you in to this atmospheric and absorbing read. The Royal Secret is very enjoyable and I’m already looking forward to the sixth book.
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I love these books by Andrew Taylor. They are so descriptive and atmospheric, the reader can almost smell the unhealthy stench! Full of intrigue and twists and turns the recently widowed Cat features prominently, with some shocking scenes. Life was precarious at the court of Charles II, and Marwood hangs onto his employment by a margin. Great stuff
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Another great adventure for Cat Hakesby and James Marwood, featuring all the usual cast of characters, including the king.  Cat and Marwood are still denying their feelings for each other but the tension is rising in that department.

As good as ever, very readable, didn't want it to end. Can't wait for the next one.
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The fifth book in this exceptional series featuring Marwood and Cat Lovett.  Once again, our heroes find themselves embroiled in political intrigue, this time involving both the kings of England and France.  Set in 1670, the historical setting is wonderfully and atmospherically brought to life.  The writing is as always effortless to read.  The plot is exciting and twisted.  But as with all the books in this series, it is the characters that drive the story along and the wonderful tension of the relationship between Marwood and Cat is so entertaining.  
What more can I say that I haven't already said, I love this series and Andrew Taylor is a wonderful writer.
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Andrew Taylor continues with the latest installment in the James Marwood, Cat Hakesby series and fans of this continuing saga won't be disappointed. We have a political backdrop involving Charles II and a secret treaty with France that leads to murder and instability. Central to this episode is the difficult relationship now developing between the main protagonists - throw in a mysterious Dutchman and two small girls drawn to witchcraft and poison and you have an exciting tale to keep you intrigued to the end. More please!
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Whenever I see a new book by Andrew Taylor I rush to pick it up and throw myself into what I know is going to be a wonderful read. He writes so easily and fluidly that I can simply enjoy the story and not get caught up in anything else. We join Cat Hakesby and James Marwood for another adventure - now with Charles II on the throne. This intrigue involves witchcraft, murder, the king's sister and Cat and James yet again sparring with one another. Fabulous, more please!
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The latest in Andrew Taylor's Post-Great Fire series is another addictive mystery as Marwood and Cat are drawn into intrigue between their own nation and those of France and Holland.
The will-they, won't-they relationship of the two protagonists could have become grating by now but Taylor has a deft hand for slowly and organically building their bond through their common issues and the surrounding characters, whether real figures from history or Taylor's own créations, are all engaging.
This is the fifth in the series and it feels as if we are still early in Marwood and Cat's journey... At least, I hope there are plenty more stops to come.
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Having read and enjoyed all the books in the series, I was eager to read the latest. Most enjoyable, a great story of spies, plots, murders, secret treaties between Kings, into which Marwood gets involved, kept me on tender hooks until the end, when Cat saves Marwood from death and he saves her from falling into the arms a treacherous seducer, after which  Marwood and Cat finally enjoy better relationship, hopefully with more to come.
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Im not too sure how I feel about The Royal Secret, the 5th book in the hugely enjoyable Marwood & Lovett series.

First and foremost, its great to be back in this vivid and compelling 17th century London that Taylor has created. I love the two main characters, and continue to be fascinated by their relationship with each other. I’ll admit to being slightly frustrated at first, as it looks like their obvious liking for each other is going nowhere. However as the story plays out its great to see developments taking place.

One of my main issues with the book is, strangely enough, the actual story itself. For the first time, I’m given the impression that Taylor wasn’t able to come up with a strong enough story to fit around the history.

The murder plot is weak, and there isn’t really any mystery. Its also wrapped up quickly and easily, with none of the twists and turns that ive come to expect from the author.

The sub plot with the two young girls also falls flat, and I don’t feel it added anything to the story.

So in some ways the book falls flat, but I still found myself enjoying reading it, and still find myself looking forward to a potential book 6!
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The Royal Secret is the fifth Marwood and Lovett book and everyone’s growing up. I could tell because Marwood got through the entire book with his wig intact and because of this he managed to buy himself a sexy new suit at the end. More importantly (not really) an unloved man who works in Marwood’s vicinity dies and Marwood is sent to collect some confidential papers the dead dullard shouldn’t have taken out of the office. After that it’s a slippery slope to murder, gambling debts, malnourished lions, men with mulberry hankies, Dutch spies and lying little girls who have far too much easily accessible arsenic. While Marwood tries to untangle that web Cat is building the poultry house of dreams that ends up taking her all the way to France and learning about the shit show that is the King’s sisters marriage. Its all absolutely thrilling. It really is. 
Marwood and Cat are always best together, I love their pettiness and squabbling as they try to sort out their feelin’s. Feelin’s are hard. I did not love Cat being attracted to “the donkey in a wig” was she blinded by his height? I just don’t know? I don’t think she even did so I was quite relieved when she returned to form and got stab happy. 
And oh! Stephen! Oh!
Taylor really knows how to pack an emotional punch without any flab. 
And honourable mention for the reworked classic “there’s only one bed” trope. That maid has a lot to answer for and Cat is a saint to put up with her. 
This has been my favourite so far I absolutely loved it.
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For me, this author is very adept with two things.  Historical accuracy, as all his books feel right and in the correct historical context, which makes an incredible difference with historic fiction.  I also feel that Andrew manages to write romance really well also, as his books ebb and flow with the back and forth of man and woman's romantic tussles.
This book is the fifth in the series and it's as fun as ever.  No dilution, no running out of ideas and the central characters remain present and enjoyable as ever.  I was lucky enough to read this early thanks to NetGalley and it was my absolute pleasure to do so as Andrew Taylor remains one of my favourite authors.  Historical fiction has become rather busy recently and Andrew holds his head high amongst his peers.
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Going Dutch

The latest episode in the Marwood and Lovett series does not disappoint. Taylor, like the best writers of historical fiction, conjures an England during the reign of Charles II, which thoroughly convinces. It is a dangerous place where the privileges of class and position dominate and the talents of those lower in society are exploited and despised. Both James Marwood and Catherine Hakesby, formerly Lovett, fall foul of their social betters, in their different situations and professions. Neither are Marwood and Lovett guiltless of the same insensitivity towards their own class inferiors.
For a time, it is unclear what the mystery is here. We are introduced to a number of characters, all to some extent behaving suspiciously. There are hints of witchcraft, murder by poisoning, Anglo-Dutch relationships, Anglo-French relationships, a pet lion. The author builds up his plot with great care – it is not until the final chapters that the secret of the title is revealed. And is it even true?
I love how the author presents the testy relationship of Marwood and Cat; in this novel, one step forward, two steps back. I love how the reader is left with a feeling of ambiguity regarding the role and motivation of the mysterious Dutch spy, Henryk Van Riebeeck. I respect how the author does not step back from the shock of the unexpected death of a sympathetic character. Superbly crafted and imaginative at all times.
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Not an easy read to begin with.  Too many characters plus the sudden change in person was confusing and interrupted the flow.  However,  I did eventually find myself enjoying the story of Marlow and his daring deeds for Lord Arlington and the court of Charles II.  I enjoyed his confusing love life with Cat and liked the fact that she was her own woman and an architect at such a time in history!  However,  I did find  some of the rather tedious interludes with the lion, Maria and Hannah  a little irritating although in all fairness, I did come to realise at the conclusion that some of it was necessary to the plot.  Van RieBeeck was a well written character, never being quite sure if he was for good or bad.   An interesting piece of history I knew nothing about and I always warm to being educated!
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The Royal Secret is book five in the Marwood and Lovett series.
In this book, Marwood is tasked with retrieving some confidential documents  whilst investigating the suspicious death of a colleague, which leads him deeper into political intrigue.
Set in Restoration England in the court of King James II, the story is rich in period detail and suspense.
I love this series, and hoping that there may be more to come.
Thank you Netgalley and Publisher for the ARC.
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*A big thank-you to Andrew Taylor, HarperCollins UK, and NetGalley for arc in exchange for my honest review*
I am a reader who is not afraid to start a new series in the middle of it or, as is the case this time. with the latest offering by the author. Mr Taylor's book have been around me for some time, even bought two of them, however, they are still on the to-read shelf. Not for long, I am certain of that now. Actually, this book can be read as a standalone as although there are some references to previous books, they do not spoil the fun of reading.
The Royal Secret is based on a historic event, negotiations between the kings of England and France. James Markwood and Cat Hakesby, well-acquainted and with yet too independent and too proud to admit their true feelings, get involved in mysterious events and political intrigue.
This book offers well-presented historical background with an engaging plot, and although not a masterpiece in the genre, it is an entertaining read for the fans of historical fiction.
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The Royal Secret is the fifth book in the James Marwood and Cat Lovett historical crime series.  Although you could read this as a standalone, it is worth starting at the beginning of the series and seeing how the characters develop and watch the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire.  The series as a whole is packed with historical detail and political intrigue and The Royal Secret delivers this in bucketfuls.

James Marwood continues to work at Scotland Yard for Joseph Williamson the Undersecretary of State to Lord Arlington, however when one of Arlington's men dies Marwood is called upon by Arlington to investigate his suspicious death.  Cat manages to secure a commission to the Duchess of Orleans (King Charles II's sister), she finds herself unknowingly drawn into the plot which Marwood is involved with.

A must read for fans of historical fiction and crime.  
Thanks to Netgalley for offering me the chance to read and review The Royal Secret.
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Another raucous adventure for James Marwood and Cat Hakesby set around the court of Charles 11. Suspicious deaths,a Dutch spy and even a lion all contribute to a glorious atmospheric yarn that races from London to Dover to France and back again. The details of London after the Great Fire are again beautifully described and the plot line is cleverly interspersed with actual events so all in all a good story that at last hints at a closer relationship between the two main characters.
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This is Book 5 in the Marwood and Lovett  (now Hakesby) series but it is a great read as a stand-alone too. You are immediately caught up in the events shaping this intriguing 17th century tale.
Men die but Marwood struggles to prove that they have probably been murdered and may all be linked to a bigger plot. The threat of harm to Cat Hakesby by  a sinister Dutchman who purports to be in love with her is worrying and we fear for her good sense as well as her safety. Andrew Taylor introduces a rich array of characters from royalty to the man in the street and not forgetting Caliban a lion who unwittingly also has a role to play.
Keeping the reader on tenterhooks the action flashes by, moving swiftly from dubious households to a gaming inn, Whitehall, Dover and France. The novel has many ingredients - spy thriller, romance, witchcraft, crime and royal history - all coming together to offer an engrossing, exciting read. Highly recommended.
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As a self-confessed fan of Andrew Taylor's historical fiction, I was delighted to receive a NetGalley ARC of his latest book in the Marwood / Hakesby series, "The Royal Secret".

This is book five in the series, and some two years have passed since the events of "The Last Protector".  Marwood's star continues to rise within Whitehall, and although Cat's position is less enviable, nevertheless she is surviving and making herself known as an architect of some skill.  Their sometimes volatile relationship has continued on the same lines, and the heat rises further as Marwood's (obvious to everyone but him) attraction to Cat causes friction between the pair and her (obvious to everyone but her) attraction to him causes her to seek out the attentions of a suspicious Dutch merchant.  

When one of Marwood's former colleagues at Whitehall is found dead in suspicious circumstances, Lord Arlington instructs Marwood to investigate.  What he uncovers is a maze of familial, business, and royal subterfuge and deceit.  

Meantime, Cat has secured a commission from the 'Madam' of France, King Charles II of England's sister, on the proviso she travels to France to discuss the plans. 

All of this takes place against the backdrop of the secret Treaty of Dover negotiations between England and Holland, and a monarchy rife with plot and intrigue, and concerns about Charles' religious beliefs. 

In fairness, "The Last Protector" I found to be less entertaining than the previous books - it was sometimes plodding, and predictable, but nevertheless a fine romp through post-Great-Fire London.  But "The Royal Secret" picks up and carries us along at a fair pace, with the usual detailed portrayal of 17th Century London.  We learn about the rich and famous' fascination with exotic animals, and more about the deep divisions and schemes within Whitehall and the royal court, and even a little dabbling in witchcraft. 

Fans of CJ Sansom, Antonia Hodgson and  SG Maclean will enjoy this series, and I thoroughly recommend it.
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