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The White Dove
Rosie Thomas
Lakota Surrender
Karen Kay
The Defiant - Mary Canon The story begins in 1590 as an aging Elizabeth Tudor is determined to stop the Irish rebellions at all costs. The other Elizabeth in this book is the niece of Robert Cecil (granddaughter of William Cecil). Like his father, Robert is a courtier first and loving uncle a very distant third, so he plans to marry Elizabeth off to her his best advantage - the very old and very wealthy Sir Christopher Hatton. Elizabeth's a Cecil to the core, and happy to spend her husband's money while she waits for him to die and make her a wealthy widow. But then Irishman Rory O'Donnell lands in London and throws a few surprises into her ordered life. Rory is the younger son of one of the warring clans, and they've sent him to England as a bit of a red herring, pretending he's estranged from the family and supports the English in all things (he's also there to foment rebellion against the crown, but it's too complicated to try to explain). Rory stays with a relative who conveniently lives close to Hatton House and part of his *cover* is to act as a love struck swain who follows Elizabeth everywhere to fool Cecil's spies. And the queen's spies. And everyone else's spies.I guess you figure out that along with the spies and counter spies there's going to be a romance brewing between the two, but you'll have to read it to see how it plays out. I thought this was a good blend of historical and fictional characters and events, and a fairly solid read with a few exceptions. I wasn't too fond of Elizabeth at times, she was a bit selfish when it came down to choosing between true love and life's little comforts (although she did slightly change her tune at the last). Outside of those few moments when I wanted to slap some sense into her, I did enjoy the relationship between the two (I hope we see more of Rory in book two). A big plus was having the main focus on the Irish rebellions during Elizabeth Tudor's later years a refreshing change on the perpetual Tudor bandwagon we have today.I'm fairly positive Rory is a fictional character (not sure about the clans and the chieftains mentioned in this book), but according to Wiki Robert Cecil did have a niece named Elizabeth, and she did marry the two men as recounted in this book (I think the author took her own spin on how marriage #2 came about, but I thought it worked in well). A minor caveat to potential readers, don't be judging this book by its covers - while there is a strong romantic element this is more a historical story than a romance. I can't say much without spoiling, but romance readers looking for lots of sex and a perfect HEA should probably just keep on shopping. This is the first book in a trilogy focusing on Ireland's struggles against English rule; book two is set during the reign of James I, the third book during Cromwell's rule. 3.5/5 stars.