The Tudor Throne Series, Book 4: The Secret in the Tower

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England lies on the brink of war.

The Duke of Suffolk has sought protection in the Dutch empire, leaving King Henry desperate to secure his extradition at any cost. Emperor Maximilian drives a hard bargain, which imperils his ability to provide for the newly widowed Katharine of Aragon. He also faces treason in his court, since not everyone has forsaken the queen’s treacherous cousin. To appease the Spanish, Henry offers them a castle on the Thames, but there, not is all as it seems.

The arrival of his royal comptroller coincides with a rash of thefts. Suspicious and fearful of the king’s intentions, the Spanish cling to their last hope, that Katharine can find a way to reforge the broken alliance. But her idea may not meet with the king’s approval.

When the ambitious young Thomas More brings a stranger into their midst, the turbulent skies over Durham House fill with uncertainty. Secret meetings, shadows in long corridors, and a sinister plot unfold beneath the shadow of The Tower...

Author's Notes:

IIn this fourth installment in my Tudor Throne series, at long last I could introduce a famous figure from the period, but who did not present himself in another book -- Thomas More.

Unsurprisingly, since he is such a strong character, his portion of the novel came together the quickest. His fierce determination to have his own way (and possibly pursue a career in the Church), his unwillingness to heed the warnings of others, and his strong sense of personal ethics drove him from the first -- straight into a diabolical tale of an evil woman, a London fraught with indecision and peril, and the tentative hold Katharine of Aragon has upon the English court.

Henry and Sir Thomas Lovell return once more, to unravel a sinister series of events... but the heart and soul of the novel truly belong to the impulsive "Master More." I hope you enjoy him as much as I do.

Excerpt:

A faint mist hangs over the river.

The king’s enforcer, Sir Thomas Lovell, waits in an arch in the district of Southwark. Though an imposing man dressed all in black, no one notices him. The brothels and taverns close for the day, and early morning activity rings out in the streets. Rather than his usual captain of the guard, Lovell stands beside John Jones. The burly Yorkshire man watches the gloom for any sign of life, eager to prove himself. Though he guarded the king for three years, he wants to join the task force. Impressed by his initiative, Lovell has agreed to a trial.

Jones catches his breath and points into the distance.

A shadow moves toward them in the mist, a small boat carrying a single passenger. It reaches the wharf. A familiar tangle of red hair shows above the simple brown cloak. Lovell has searched far and wide for the Duke of Suffolk’s servants. This is the last, a page in his London service. Southwark is a good place to disappear among the thieves, defrocked priests, and beggars.

The man pays the boatman and hurries down an alley. Jones looks to Lovell for consent and then follows at a distance. Lovell’s fingers tighten on his sword hilt and he creeps out of his hiding place. The old, faded boards creak under his weight until he reaches the muddy street.

They trail Cordon to a small house at the end of a dank lane. Cordon glances around before he shoves through the door. Jones covers the side window while Lovell tests the latch. To his surprise, it lifts. He makes his way up a dim passage and peers into a cramped kitchen. Cordon has just cut a loaf of bread. “Cordon,” he says, startling the man, “you’re under arrest in the king’s name.”

The page stares at him in shock—then dives out the window. Lovell hears a surprised shout and a brief scuffle before Jones slams him against the wall. The knife clatters to the paving stones. “Got him, Sir Thomas,” he cries, and trots him to the front door.

Lovell abandons the kitchen for a small parlor off the main stairs. He scans the bare walls, the aged furniture, and the minimal furnishings. The only personal possession is a carved wooden box on the mantel. He turns at the sound of dragging footsteps in the hall. Jones enters, shoves the furious young man into a chair, and stands over him.

Cordon glares at them. “I did nothing wrong,” he says.

“Other than run away,” Lovell retorts.

Intelligent brown eyes flash beneath unruly locks. Cordon has a spattering of freckles across his slender nose. “Now, or then?”

“Does it matter? Innocent men have nothing to fear from me.” Lovell throws his arm across the mantel and tilts his head to study the man. Cordon sweats beneath his gaze. A loud silence fills the room. A cart passes in the street. The mist dulls the rattle of its wheels.

Cordon wipes the sweat off his palms onto his gray hose. “How could I trust you, after what my master said of you, Sir Thomas?”

“I interrogated and released most of his servants.”

A crooked smile touches his mouth. “Most being the key word.”

Lovell moves toward him, impressed he does not flinch. The man stares up at him, determined to show no fear. “Tell me what I want to know, and I shall never trouble you again. You served in Suffolk’s London house. Several months before he left, he intended to hold a dinner party. He even sent out invitations, yet he never held it at his London residence.”

“True, Sir Thomas. He did not.”

The enforcer grips the back of Cordon’s chair and bends over him. Jones observes with interest. “If not there, then where? Who attended? I know what idle tongues servants possess. Even if you did not take part in his plans, you must have overheard things.”

Cordon licks his lips. “Such as..?”

“A name. The guest list. Someone whose trust he kept?”

The muted light glints off the walls. Cordon swallows. “I might.”

Pleased by his cooperation, Lovell straightens. “Who is it?”

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