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The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy

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Member Reviews

The final volume in the Marquess House Trilogy, this book does not disappoint and lines up well with the previous two books. Following Perdita and Piper in their investigations into the true Tudor story find them discovering more secrets about Elizabeth Tudor, Catherine Howard and their network of supporters. Outstanding and recommended.
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This is the 3rd book in the Marquess House series of books. I have not read either of the preceding books. I would have rather read the first 2 books as there was information that was not fully explained and I read the book feeling as if I was missing parts. Having said that, the book was enjoyable and an interesting what if point of view in the Tudor succession. I had not heard of Arbella Stuart before and was interested to read more about her life at the courts of Elizabeth 1 and James 1. I would definitely recommend reading the books in order.
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I want to begin by saying that I received this book for free through Netgalley, but all thoughts are my own. This is the final book in The Marquess House trilogy, and I seriously suggest reading the first two books before reading this, as the storyline does continue. This is not one of those series where you can read any book in any order. This was a fascinating trilogy as a whole, the way Alexandra Walsh discovered a small fact in history and twisted and turned it into a whole new way of history working was incredible. I enjoyed that the trilogy focused on women as a whole, in both the Tudor era and modern day. I loved how the different families connected and I found myself really intrigued as to how certain things connected. Despite all the names and dates mentioned, I didn’t feel confused when reading this at all. The way she wrote the characters, especially Perdita to speak really made it so she explained everything, just to make sure we as readers understand what is going on, but also so she can explain her findings to the other characters. I thought so many of the characters were loveable and just in general I was wholly absorbed into this book, as I was with the previous two. This series will definitely hold a special place in my heart, and I just can’t recommend it enough to any historical fiction fans, especially if the Tudor era is a favourite for you. This was so well written, really nicely done, it ended fantastically. Please do read this!
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Book three in the Marquess House triology focuses on the lost queen, Arabella Stuart.  Of the three books, this one was the hardest to follow.  Keeping all of the characters straight was difficult; however, as the novel progressed these convuluted relationsips became easier to follow and I became immersed in the story.  Great read for anyone interested in the Tudors.
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Interesting spin on history.  Not sure how I feel about the book however since I have not yet read the first two.  I am probably tracking down those however.
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The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy – Alexandra Walsh

In 'The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy', Alexandra Walsh tells us a double story. On the one hand, the story of Lady Arbella Stuart, her female supporters, and her offspring, in her claim to queendom after the death of Queen Elizabeth I, in favour of James I; on the other, the story of Dr Perdita Rivers, her twin sister Piper, and their whole historian team as they unravel the mystery of the Stuart claim. Added to a surprising conclusion to the events, Perdita’s team also deal with love, betrayal, and a dastardly enemy intent on their destruction alongside the suppression of the truth they uncover.
To spin her tale, Walsh creates a secret sisterhood of noblewomen in Tudor England, the Ladies of Melusine, working in the shadows to (unsuccessfully, in the end) stop and overthrow the patriarchal powers. Their codes and items are what lead Perdita, Piper, and the others to confirm that Lady Arbella, and her children, were the true preferable heirs to the throne. For that, they are all targeted by MI1 Elite, and archenemy Randolph Connors, who despite all their power cannot gain access to Marquess House, family home of the twins, and secret keeper for the Ladies of Melusine over the centuries.

Who would enjoy this
First of all, 'The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy' is the third volume of a series, and very clearly the closing chapter for the whole saga. Thus, it will make sense for readers of the previous volumes to follow up and get their ending.
Secondly, I would recommend it to people who enjoy slow burns, British history, and learning without studying. The tome is well researched and full of detail.
Finally, I would offer it to people who love conspiracy theories, particularly those with a feminist twist. Whether to bemoan the harm done to Lady Arbella and the Ladies of Melusine, or to cheer the winning brilliance of Dr Rivers, they will find their interests met. 

Who should give this a pass
The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy is not for those who want a fast-paced story. You are either a patient reader, or you give this a wide berth.
Similarly, this is not the right book for a reader with a love for credible storylines and characters. Despite the heavy reliance on historical research, Lady Arbella comes through as rather vacuous and insignificant to the large tapestry of history; the baddies are super-bad; and everyone is beautiful, brilliant, rich, and powerful.

Conclusions and suggestions
'The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy' is, as mentioned, vastly researched, as well as carefully planned and structured. It is also well written, and will be attractive to many a reader. Sadly, as far as engaging the more demanding readership, it has several issues.
There is a British expression which sums up my feelings about the story of Lady Arbella Stuart after reading this book: not fussed. Despite having picked up the tome for its content matter (I love history, conspiracies, and learning about relevant female figures), I was left with an image of a petulant child-woman who was enamoured with her own claim, and the adulation of those around her. Someone so removed from reality, she would risk civil war for a crown, yet express incredulity when those near her would risk themselves to help her escape The Tower. I felt the fantasy diminished the woman I had learned about.
With regards to the ‘contemporary’ events in the story, I could not relate to any of the other characters. Most particularly, I could not take seriously the whole ‘hunted down by an elite body specialised in preventing the truth from rendering asunder the whole fabric of our modern government’ vibe of the MI1 Elite force. It made me burst out laughing a few times, roll my eyes at least. I will not tell you what I think of mega-rich, mega-crazy, megalomaniac Raymond Connors’ character. I could just as well imagine the Avengers, or Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates, rampaging through the pages.
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Princess Fuzzypants here:  I am of two minds with this book.  There were things I liked very much about it and there were things that frustrated me greatly.  What I liked was the two time-lines, revealing information gradually..  I did like the concept of unknown heirs to the Throne who have been hidden for centuries and the conflict between the people who want to reveal the truth and those who wish to keep it hidden.  The James Bondian world where there are rich human heroes and stinking rich supervillains is fun to read.  It does require a suspension of disbelief.  That is not where I take exception.
I have two fundamental problems with the premise.  First, knowing what we know from history, Henry VIII would never deny a healthy male heir.  Ask his wives.  Then there is Catherine Howard as the matriarch..  I just have a hard time seeing her as anything but a Royal lightweight.  I can go along with the other bending of history but that one just never sits right.
My biggest complaint is I always felt like I had missed something.  There were so many characters and so much back story that I felt I had missed the 101 course and gone right into my PHD.  I would get to a point and breathe a sigh of relief thinking I had caught up and then I would discover myself in another muddle.  It detracted from what was a good story so for that reason I am giving it four purrs but only one paw up.
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I had somehow missed the second book in this series but found that I could still follow the story. I had loved the first book however the third instalment had way too many characters that I wasn't familiar with and I had to keep googling the historical characters to figure out the story. Maybe a family tree at the beginning would help. However I did enjoy Piper and Perida's journey and found the book highly engaging.
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A really enjoyable read.  I didn’t look at the small print very carefully and quickly realised I had started reading the third in a trilogy without reading the previous two.  Having studied Tudor history at A Level and  a lot of sixteenth and seventeenth century literature at university I was familiar with many of the historical figures and events mentioned.  The reason I requested the title was because of the mention of Arbella Stuart.   She cropped up in my masters research on clandestine marriage and I was intrigued by the book when I saw her name.  
The book itself is highly entertaining.  There are  lots of characters to keep up with - especially in the flashbacks to Arbella’s story and I was glad I knew a lot of the background.  I enjoyed it so much I’ve now downloaded the first two books in the trilogy to read.
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England: 1603. Queen Elizabeth has died without naming an heir, and numerous claimants vied for the throne. One such was Arbella Stuart. She lost the crown to her cousin James VI of Scotland, and she vanished into history. Or did she?
Present day: Twins Perdita, an archaeologist, and her sister Piper, an art historian, inherit their ancestral home, Marquess House, from their grandmother. The ancient mansion holds secrets that could rewrite history.
Past and present collide as old secrets come to light. This is an entertaining and thought-provoking novel, full of historical stories real and imagined. The very number of Elizabethan characters can be overwhelming without a scorecard, and some of the fictional details are pretty far-fetched: who was the actual Oliver Cromwell? Wow! All in all, it is a good read for fans of historical fiction with a twist.
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I really loved this trilogy and thought that this was an extremely well-written conclusion to a fantastic series. So many characters to keep up with and I have to be honest, I had to go back and reread parts to refresh my memory on characters. The author did an excellent job with her historical research. I loved falling back in time with all three of the books. This one was my favorite. I loved the intrigue and the well-developed characters. I'm so sad that it's finished! I wish that it was more than a trilogy.

I would like to thank Alexandra Walsh, Sapere and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Overall, I enjoyed this ridiculous series -- ridiculousness not being a bar to success when it comes to conspiracy thrillers.  I felt the author did a pretty good job blending real history with the alternate version she was writing.  That said, the characterization throughout were pretty wooden and I thought the ending was a bit of an anticlimax.  And, in all three volumes, the bits based in the past were a real weak spot.  As I said, Walsh consistantly gets the historical facts and timeline right, but the period bits of her story never really feels evocative.  Too modern language, and all the characters display too modern sensibilities.  One example only: the motto used through all 3 books is screamingly inauthentic, even when rendered in Latin.  'Hope and Mermaids' is something a modern woman would stencil on her shiplap walls, NOT something a Tudor- or Stuart-era woman would use as a  personal motto.  That phrase yanked me out of the story every time I saw it.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC copy for my review.
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Sadly, this trilogy is complete! No more pulse racing excitement, no further open mouthed shocks about a carefully researched and imagined alternative history of the Tudor dynasty. It is so plausible, and so lovely to read about such strong female characters, in this concluding book, Arbella Stuart and The Ladies of Melusine, her loyal waiting ladies, and secret keepers. 
The dual time lines continue, but the emphasis is more upon the Stuart court, than the modern sisters, Perdita and Piper. There is an excellent mix of research into actual events and the alternative version is so believable, it has been such a pleasure to read and speculate on that phrase’ What if...’. Fascinating and although history cannot be rewritten, I have been busy re- reading all my Tudor and Stuart novels, just for the sheer fun of it!! The intense detail can mean the reader is lost at times, but they will never be bored! 
This trilogy, in my opinion must be read in sequence. That is the way it was written and intended, and you must trust the author in this respect. The second book ended with the discovery of jewellery that hid the final secret and shock. A great deal of cerebral endeavour is used to put all these pieces together, but, once again it all makes perfect sense, in this perfect alternative creation of Stuart history. Hidden documents, a grotto, and the relevance of mermaids all come together in a satisfying conclusion. History was always written by the victors, and truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. 
Whilst reading this trilogy, I have been continuing my love affair with Mary, Queen of Scots, and visiting places associated with her. It is hard to believe how much influence she had in real life and,in this alternative viewpoint. Whilst at Hardwick Hall, I saw items associated with Arbella, Bess of Hardwick, Queen Elizabeth and MQOS. The way these powerful women were related, and had such a intertwined history, is fascinating in itself. King James, by contrast, was more like his father, than the strong character of his mother. Both these men had relationships with other men, it was an open secret, and you really felt sorry that Arbella Stuart, was passed over for the English throne, because of her sex. Some of the male courtiers were expensively dressed fops and full of their own importance, it was great to think that women, used to being just decorous beings, were in the best place to spy and make courageous plans right under the noses of their menfolk. I like to think of all the exciting times and plans they were privy to and made, for the good of their families, despite being married off, for titles, money and breeding duties.
I have bought these books for my youngest son, this is a period of history, he adores. I look forward to his report!! I look forward to more palaces and castles to visit when lockdown is over. 
A brilliant five star read, so exciting and vivid. What next, I wonder? I can hardly wait!  Thanks for my advance copies, I can hardly believe how lucky I was to get all three books! I will leave reviews presently.
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I was so excited to read this book.  Like the first two in this trilogy this book was fantastic.  Everybody thinks they know about Tudor history.  What if all was not as it seems?  While twins, Perdita and Piper, unravel a secret that dates back to Katherine Howard they are putting their lives in danger.  This is such a good book that I am so sad it is over.
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Well sadly the trilogy is over. I have enjoyed these books over the last year and eagerly awaited the third book and at the same time dreaded it ending. I was not disappointed. The books are such a original idea, taking all we thought about Tudor and Stuart history and setting it on it’s head. 

The book follows  sisters Perdita and Piper as they return to Marquess House, still hunted by powerful people who want to keep the Tudor and Stuart history under the status quo. This book picks up with the death of Elizabeth I and the rise of the Stuarts via James VI, but wait there is another claimant to the throne, Arbella Stuart, what of her claim? Well she is a woman and that is not always a great thing in 17th century England. Like the previous two books there are mysteries to solve and clues to find to solve the mystery of the missing Tudor heirs .I did love that this book covered the life of Arbella Stuart, she has sadly been mostly erased from history and I only knew about her because of history I have read on her grandmother Bess of Hardwick. The fact that she had a strong claim to the English throne, stronger than James VI per Henry the VIII’s will, has mainly been ignored and written out of history, she also had a fairly tragic life. It was nice to read a book that took a different view of Arbella and her importance to Tudor and Stuart history.

In modern times we have the story of Perdita and Piper trying to solve the mystery and stay alive long enough to enjoy their lives and fortunes. While I do enjoy the modern story line, I will say that the historical portion was more fascinating to me. 

I highly recommend this trilogy for anyone who has a fascination with history and likes a nice mystery/thriller thrown in. I do advise reading the 1st two books in the triolgy first as it is easy to get lost with all the characters and storylines otherwise. I assure you it is not a trial to read the 1st two books as they are quite fascinating as well. 

Thank you to Netgalley, Sapere books and Alexandra Walsh for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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This is a trilogy that, although it has some minor flaws, I recommend to any reader who's ever had a fascination with Tudor and Stuart history. I know I have, and I've lost count of the books, both fiction and non-fiction, that I've read about this period. It seemed as though any man with any sort of high status was out to grab all the wealth and power that he could-- and he didn't care who he had to knock down to get it. There is a sort of glamor to this period, and it's also an extremely brutal era. This period was also graced with some formidable women, Elizabeth I and Bess of Hardwick, to name just two. How women of their power and intelligence had the fortitude to deal with the men of the day escapes me. I think I'd lose all patience and keep the royal executioners busy.

The Marquess House trilogy is just the sort of dual timeline story that I love. In this third book, Arbella Stuart takes the spotlight as she tries to outlast all those who are after her-- which includes her cousin James who makes his leisurely way down to London to be crowned King James I of England. Alexandra Walsh has shown a brilliant capability for finding little-known trails in history that lead to locked doors. Nothing is known about what happened behind those doors, so she weaves a story to fill in the blanks. Most of her work at her fictional loom has made me smile, but in this third book, the fate of one of the male characters was a bit of a stretch that my imagination really didn't want to make.

For large periods of time, nothing is mentioned about the groups of people who are out to get Perdita and Piper in the modern timeline. We're just told how superior the security is at Marquess House. It's almost as if Walsh were having so much fun with her histories that she forgot all about the modern-day bad guys. When she did remember them, the only thing she could do was to create some incredibly bone-headed lapses in that superior security. Ah well. A minor quibble.

One of the most powerful themes throughout this trilogy has always been women fighting for the right to their own voice, to their own power, and the author had me mentally cheering in solidarity more than once. If you think you may want to read Walsh's work, please read The Catherine Howard Conspiracy and The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy first or you may become confused. This trilogy is fun, and it's so good to see an author with a good knowledge of history go to work on it with her imagination to create something that might just have happened.
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I would just like to say, Alexandra Walsh, has done an OUTSTANDING job with this work of Historical Fiction! I loved how much actual history was woven into this novel, and how many things i took notes on to look up and expand my knowledge on! The characters were so believable, they jumped right off the page. I was able to put myself in the scene and environment and felt truly connected to the events of this book! Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book!
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The Arbela Stuart Conspiracy is a fascinating premise and Alexandra Walsh's novel is chock full of historical detail and period intrigue.  As an avid fan of historical fiction, I was anxious to read Walsh's book but I am afraid I was continuously lost in the maze of characters she introduces: dozens and dozens of them. I never emerged from the maze in this story . . . . 

A dedicated reader would benefit from easy access pages of Tudor and Stuart genealogy, and perhaps a crib sheet of the plots and conspiracies of the period.  I use historical novels as a means to enrich my understanding of a period, but unfortunately this trip to Tudor England did not offer me any enlightenment, just confusion.

Ms. Walsh is clearly well versed on the people, places, and intrigues of the dynasty and I was disappointed that I didn't have the historical background to fully enjoy this book.  I think readers would benefit from reading her trilogy in order---starting with Book 3 probably added to my befuddlement.

I am grateful to NetGalley for providing me the opportunity read this book in exchange for a candid review.
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A mystery story that flashes back to Tudor times? Um, yes please!  Mysteries and the Tudor era, two of my favorite things!

I am so glad that I came across this book on Netgalley, and was ecstatic when I was approved to read it, because I have now found a new favorite historical fiction author!

This was the third and final installment of the Marquees House trilogy, combining dual time storylines in the present and and the tumultuous period at the end of Elizabeth's reign, when the topic of succession was in dispute.

This was such a fun, entertaining read to cozy up in bed with on a lazy afternoon.  I love the fact that this book, during flashbacks to the Tudor times, revolved around a woman named Arbella Stuart, who I admittedly had never heard of before picking up this novel.  It was also nice and refreshing to be reading about historical figures that haven't already been written about hundreds of times already (even though I never get tired of reading about my favorites, namely Anne Boleyn.  But still!).  

In present time, the story revolves Perdita and Piper, who are sisters, and also characters from the two previous novels in this series (which I have not yet read, but definitely will be soon!).  They are at their ancestral home Marquess House in Pembrokeshire.  They have already uncovered many secrets from Tudor times (Okay but seriously, I want their lives-Their amazing sounding ancestral house! Unlocking mysteries and chasing secrets from the past! Just everything! Ah!).  They have one piece of jewelry that they still need in order to help solve the mystery-a silver locket.  Their discovery of this key piece of jewelry could lead to unlocking the secrets of the lost prince, and change everything we know about the Royal family, and thus, history.

This was a very fast paced and atmospheric read.  There were so many twists and turns in the plot, and you never quite knew what was going to happen next.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and was so mesmerized by it, that I nearly read it in one sitting, as I was eager to unlock the secrets of the past alongside Perdita and Piper.  The meticulous planning and research that went into this book was very apparent in the fine detail, and made the story that much better.  I applaud the author for taking the time to go to the lengths she went to, to do the added research to craft such a well structured, enchanting historical story.

The only thing that took away from my reading experience was the fact that I didn't read the first two books in the trilogy prior to reading this one.  While I suppose this can be read as a standalone, I really feel that you should read all three books in order, for the best understanding of the characters and storylines, especially before reading this final installment.

Highly recommend!
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‘What have you done to her?’

England, 1603.  Elizabeth I is dead.  The end of the Tudor line, it seems.  A decision is made to pass the throne to James VI of Scotland, he will become the first Stuart monarch of England.  But there’s a secret, and there are concealed Tudor heirs.  What will happen next?

Marquess House, Pembrokeshire, 2019. Perdita Rivers and her sister Piper have returned to their ancestral home.  They have uncovered secrets: conspiracies and cover-ups during the Tudor period, but there is still one part of the puzzle to be found, and some old enemies will reappear.

There are nine parts to this story, alternating between 1603-1604 (after James VI and I becomes the English monarch) and the present day endeavours of Perdita and Piper.  The 17th century focus is on Arbella Stuart, cousin of James, who might have been considered a potential successor to Elizabeth I.

This is the third book in the Marquess House Trilogy, marketed as ‘a dual timeline conspiracy thriller with an ingenious twist on a well-known period of Tudor and Stuart history.’  I’ve not read the first two books, but the opening section provided me with enough information to follow this story.

I confess, while I was curious about this novel, historical conspiracy thrillers are not amongst my favourite works of fiction.  I like my historical fiction to remain within an historical fact framework: fictional characters can do fictional things, but not real people.  However, Ms Walsh’s writing kept me turning the pages and her note to the reader at the end gave me the explanation I needed to cautiously accept the fiction.

It's an ingenious story.  It’s well written and it will certainly appeal to those who like conspiracy theories with an historical flavour.  The three books in the series are:

BOOK ONE: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy
BOOK TWO: The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy
BOOK THREE: The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy 

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Sapere Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.  

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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