The Royal Secret
by Andrew Taylor
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 29 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 1 Apr 2022
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction, HarperCollins
From the No.1 bestselling author of The Last Protector and The Ashes of London comes the next book in the phenomenally successful series following James Marwood and Cat Lovett during the time of King Charles II.
Two young girls plot a murder by witchcraft. Soon afterwards a government clerk dies painfully in mysterious circumstances. His colleague James Marwood is asked to investigate – but the task brings unexpected dangers.
Meanwhile, architect Cat Hakesby is working for a merchant who lives on Slaughter Street, where the air smells of blood and a captive Barbary lion prowls the stables. Then a prestigious new commission arrives. Cat must design a Poultry House for the woman that the King loves most in all the world.
Unbeknownst to all, at the heart of this lies a royal secret so explosive that it could not only rip apart England but change the entire face of Europe…
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 93 members
A really enjoyable book. As ever Cat and Marwood get themselves involved in political treachery, this time revolving around both the kings of England and France. It is a beautifully, fluid story by Taylor mercifully written in a single timeline avoiding the current trend to keep jumping between time periods. I enjoyed it so much that I read it in just 2 sittings. Having read all the previous books with Cat and Marwood, it was like being with old friends as the characters are so well drawn. Although this can be read as a stand alone, I strongly recommend reading the previous books in the series as the reader will be missing out on some great books.
This is an honest review of a complimentary ARC.
This is another great adventure for James Marwood and Cat Hakesby (nee Lovett) in 17th century London. These books are so well written that they are completely enthralling. At last London seems to be slowly recovering from the Great Fire but the intrigues of the court of Charles II continue. This time out Cat gets to spread her wings and travel to France at the behest of Madame the king's sister who is married to the Duke of Orleans, younger brother of Louis XIV. As usual we witness the differences between the lives of the "haves" and the "have nots" and the difficulties of survival for a woman in what is very much a man's world. Cat is a woman who knows her own mind and wants a career rather than marriage and children - a feminist ahead of her time.
Thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for the opportunity to review this book.
Another engaging read from Andrew Taylor following James Marwood as he attempts to investigate the death of an erstwhile colleague in mysterious circumstances; and Cat Lovell as she dips her toe into life as an independent widow (though not without suitors) and takes up the mantle in continuing her late husband’s architect business.
Travelling across Charles II post fire London, into Kent and as far afield as France, the story is convincing in historical detail and well researched. It is scattered with real events, locations and characters, and follows a real timeline whilst providing the reader with an action and intrigue packed narrative.
I opened my first Marwood book three years ago and now await each new instalment eagerly so I was delighted to receive an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. I wasn’t disappointed, and read well into the night to finish this in one sitting! If you haven’t yet tried Andrew Taylor books, then I strongly recommend this series to you.
A great pleasure to be back in the company of James Marwood and Cat Hakesby (Lovett) in 17century England. King Charles II is on the throne and is keen to agree a treaty with France and Holland to avoid any more devastating wars. As always there is a cast of ne’r do wells and devious characters wanting to disrupt the agreement in order to line their own pockets. The book immerses the reader in the sights and smells (oh the smells!) of the time and the descriptions of characters and settings are excellent - one is transported to places of extreme poverty and extreme wealth and opulence, with the cast of characters believable and superbly drawn. There is love interest and a clutch of murders too - in fact the book has everything to entertain the reader, particularly lovers of historical fiction. Although it will stand perfectly well on its own, having encountered the main characters before adds even more interest to the story.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another superb addition to Taylor's 17th Century series (this is number 5 and the other 4 are excellent too) with Cat and Marwood. It can be read as a standalone but I thoroughly recommend reading the other 4 first as this only adds to the depth of the story.
The book involves (amongst other things) murder, espionage, a hunt for unicorn horn powder, a trip to France for Cat, a royal summit at Dover and a lion in a garden. It rattles along with Taylor's mastery at an impressive rate. Expect to experience the urge to read this quickly as I became invested in the story from the off.
The authentic way the 17th Century era is brought to life and the intricate way the storylines converge is wonderful. I found myself learning the meaning of some new words as Taylor's way with the same makes sure your grey matter will thank you. I also appreciated the Historical Note at the end which made me cogitate on many things.
Things do not go smoothly for Cat and Marwood but they are there for each other when push comes to shove.
I am a paid up member of the Taylor fan club. I hope that this series continues for many more episodes 5/5
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an impartial review.
My thanks to Andrew Taylor, Harper Collins and net Galley for the ARC of THE ROYAL SECRET.
Yet another book I've read recently that I didn't want to end, THE ROYAL SECRET is the continuation of this brilliant series by Andrew Taylor. Cat and Marwood are embroiled in more political intrigue when one of Marwood's former colleagues dies suspiciously and is discovered to have been poisoned. He was a patron of The Blue Bush Club, a gambling den from where Marwood thinks Abbots troubles began, and he begins an investigation that takes him all over England. Meanwhile Cat has won an architectural.. commission from the 'Madam' of France, King Charles of England's sister, to built a poultry house fi for a princess. She is dispatched to France where she comes into contact with and becomes entranced by, the man at the route of a plot that will overturn the fortunes of England. 5 super stars
Another great historical fiction by Andrew Taylor. It fascinating mixing history with fiction, It brings the historical period to life. this was an absorbing storyline with an interesting variety of characters and a compelling storyline. the conclusion was good and hopefully, seems to leave a suggestion of a sequel.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.