Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

His Dark Lady - Victoria Lamb - Blog Tour - Extract and Competition!

Today I am delighted to be part of the Blog Tour for His Dark Lady by Victoria Lamb!

This novel is a follow-up to The Queen's Secret which was released last year and which I loved! You can read my review here.

I am featuring a fabulous extract from His Dark Lady below to whet your appetite, as well as a super competition with 3 copies of the novel available to be won!

Extract from the novel

Greenwich Palace, London, late April 1578

Fresh buds on the trees, the love-dance of the peacock shaking the ‘eyes’ on his splendid blue-green tail, a weak April sunshine on the grassy lawns. These were some of her favourite sights in spring. Yet Elizabeth could hardly bear to stop and admire them as she paced the neatly kept paths and gardens at Greenwich Palace. She bit her lip, rubbed and clapped her gloved hands together, now walking briskly, now standing in a daze like a moonstruck calf. Where had Robert gone? What was he doing that was so important it must keep him from court? She had thought they were growing closer again, this past year. Why would he cause her this new grief?
The Earl of Leicester had come back to court from the country on her summons, then kept mysteriously to his own suite of rooms, claiming to be ill. Now he had vanished entirely, and without asking her permission to leave court. It seemed the earl had been ferried back across the river with his servants to sit out a fever at Leicester House, her spies had told her apologetically. But Elizabeth could tell they were unsure of their information. Shuffling feet, downcast eyes. Hurriedly penned notes that spoke of indecision. Might be there, Your Majesty. May lately have been seen in the vicinity.
Idiots! And they dared to call themselves her spies. She should have them all strung up as fools and knaves. Except, as her spy­master, Sir Francis Walsingham, was fond of reminding her, she would then get no information out of them at all, let alone this embarrassed throat-clearing over Robert’s whereabouts. What were they trying to hide from her?
It had once again become her custom to walk out with her ladies in the early mornings. It had been another bitter winter, ice remaining on the ground long after it should have thawed, and the stiff green tips of spring flowers frozen where they grew. But now it was late April, and at last Elizabeth was able to enjoy the sweet breeze and the birds calling to each other in the spring sunshine. Such a relief, she thought, to leave behind the choking air of chambers where night pots had not yet been emptied nor soiled rushes swept away. They had been in residence several months now, and it was becoming impossible to mask the stench of the privies with burned herbs or sweeten the odour of unwashed flesh with pomanders.
She turned back towards the palace. ‘Speak, what is it?’ she asked brusquely, seeing one of her stewards hurrying towards her.
‘The Spanish ambassador awaits you in the Presence Chamber, Your Majesty.’
Signor Mendoza! She had forgotten their meeting this morning. She thought of his watchful eyes and the dark oily sheen of his hair, but could not quite find it in herself to dislike the man. He might be reporting every movement she made back to Spain, but at least he understood how to entertain a bored queen with ­gossip.
‘What’s that?’ she demanded. Something had fluttered slowly down from an open window above their heads. Elizabeth stared upwards, but it was impossible to make anything out against the sunlight. ‘Pick it up, man, and give it to me. Is it a letter? From whose window did it fall?’
‘Window?’ the steward repeated blankly, but craned his neck upwards at her command. ‘I cannot tell, Your Majesty. I see no one.’
The letter was not addressed to anyone; it merely held a few lines in a bold hand. Her blood chilled as she read them.
‘I do not believe it,’ she choked, then crumpled the letter up tight in her gloved hand.
God’s blood, could it be true?
Remain calm, she told herself, aware of her women staring. Remember that you are a queen. Reveal nothing.
‘Send for Lord Leicester. I would speak with him at once.’

Competition! - 3 copies of His Dark Lady to be won!

To celebrate the launch of the book, thanks to the publishers, I am offering 3 readers of my blog the opportunity to win a copy of His Dark Lady.

To enter, please leave a comment below. Within the comment, I'd love to know which is your favourite play by Shakespeare, if you have one.

For an extra entry, follow @linshealy on twitter and leave your twitter @ name in the comments below.

For another extra entry, follow this blog by Google Friend Connect by clicking on the 'Join this Site' button in the right-hand column of this blog.

Please include in your comment a way of contacting you if you are not a follower here/on twitter/another blogger who I can find by clicking on your name.

The competition closes on Wednesday 13th March and is open to UK based entrants only this time as specified by the publisher.

His Dark Lady is published by Bantam Press and is out now in hardback.

About the novel

Gripping and intense, Queen Elizabeth’s court will be rocked by scandal, betrayal and a plot to assassinate the Queen!

When young, aspiring playwright William Shakespeare encounters Lucy Morgan, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s ladies-in-waiting, the two fall passionately in love. He declares Lucy the inspiration for his work, but what secret is Will hiding from his muse? Meanwhile, Lucy has her own secret – and one that could destroy her world if exposed.

On a far greater scale England is in turmoil. Queen Elizabeth’s health is deteriorating, her throne under siege from Catholic plotters and threats of war with Spain. Faced with deciding the fate of her long-term prisoner, Mary, Queen of Scots, she needs a trusted circle of advisors around her now more than ever. But who can she turn to when those closest to her have proved disloyal?

About the author

Shakespeare’s muse, in love and in peril...

While studying Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights at Oxford University, Victoria Lamb had a desire to write a series of novels about Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’. Along the way, she has published five books of poetry under the name Jane Holland and edited the arts journal Horizon Review. She is also the author of a series of Tudor novels for teens.
Victoria is the daughter of best-selling romantic novelist Charlotte Lamb. Victoria lives in a three-hundred-year old farmhouse on the fringe of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, with her husband and young family. She is currently working on her third novel featuring Lucy Morgan.

You can find the author on twitter @VictoriaLamb1 and visit her website here.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great job Lindsey !

    I just made His Dark Lady my Wishlist Wednesday book on jaffareadstoo !

    My favourite Shakespearean play is one I studied in detail - Antony and Cleopatra !

    I already follow you on Google friends connect and twitter @jaffareadstoo



    1. Thanks for commenting and entering Josie, and also for your Wishlist Wednesday link, that's great! That is one of my favourites too, I studied it as well.
      Good luck!

  3. Loved, loved, loved The Queen's Secret so I have to enter Lins :)

    My favourite play is The Tempest. I was fortunate to see a ballet too a few years ago - it was stunning.

    I think I already follow you on GFC etc. I also subscribe :)

    Good luck to everyone entering x

    1. Thanks very much for entering and commenting Shaz, and for sharing your favourite play. I remember that you enjoyed that one (TQS) very much too. Good luck! :) x

  4. Taming of the Shrew is my favourite Shakespeare play. Wonderful brew of comedy and love, mixed with the darkness of Elizabethan domestic violence and misogyny 
    I really, really(yes, really!) would like to win this as I loved ‘The Queen's secret’ and can't quite wait until ‘His dark Lady’ it is out in paperback!! I will keep all my fingers and toes dutifully crossed. Thank you.
    I can be found as a facebook follower of Victoria Lamb – or
    Debbie Bowers

    1. Thanks very much for taking part Debbie, and for the lovely comment. Glad to hear of another fan of The Queen's Secret! Good luck! :)

  5. Sounds intriguing, Lindsay. My favourite Shakespearean play is Hamlet mainly because I virtually knew it inside out having studied it for A Level! I do have a soft spot for All's Well that Ends Well too. I follow you on GFC and also on Twitter. Great giveaway, thank you.

    1. Thanks for taking part Treez, good luck.

  6. Never been a huge fan of Shakespeare I have to say, I do enjoy the more modern adaptations and of those the ones based on Taming of the Shrew are my favourites. Am about to follow on twitter.
    Tracey Risebrow

    1. Thanks for commenting and following Tracey, and good luck!

  7. Never been a huge fan of Shakespeare I have to say, I do enjoy the more modern adaptations and of those the ones based on Taming of the Shrew are my favourites. Am about to follow on twitter.
    Tracey Risebrow

  8. I studied Troilus & Cressida at A level, which should be enough to put anyone off for life. But our teaching staff took us to Bristol Old Vic to watch it on stage, and it was experience I'll never forget. So T&C for me!

    1. Thanks for commenting and entering the giveaway Angi. That's one I've never read. I have to say I love the two I did for A level so they must have done something right with the teaching!

  9. I loved The Queen's Secret too, being in Tudor England is one of my most favourite ways to pass the time! Romeo & Juliet has always been my favourite Shakespeare play, no matter how many times I see it I still hope for a happy ending just once. I also love The Winter's Tale - a lesson in trust and belief.

    We're twitter friends (hooray!)

    1. Thanks for taking part Sarah. I'm so glad that you enjoyed that novel too. I'm fond of R&J too, that was our GCSE one. I don't know TWT well.

  10. This novel sounds wonderful. I love this genre - it always comes alive for me. I loved her other novel 'The Queen's Secret' and reviewed it for lovereading. I'm keeping my fingers firmly crossed that I'm one of the lucky three in this giveaway.
    My favoutite Shakespearean play is 'Othello' which I studied for my 'A' Levels. We went to Stratford to see it and it was mesmerising - the memory will live with me forever.
    Thank you for hosting this giveaway Lindsay.

    1. Thanks for taking part Joan, good luck! I read Othello and enjoyed it. I'm glad you liked TQS too!


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and leave a comment. It's great reading your comments and I really appreciate them :)