Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

If God won’t save the Queen…they will.

Orphan Meg Fellowes makes her living picking pockets—until she steals from the wrong nobleman. Instead of rotting in prison like she expected, she’s whisked away to the court of Queen Elizabeth I and pressed into royal service. With a faked noble identity, Meg joins four other skilled girls in the Maids of Honor, the Queen’s secret society of protectors. 

Meg’s natural abilities as a spy prove useful in this time of unrest. The Spanish Court is visiting, and with them come devious plots and hidden political motives. As threats to the kingdom begin to mount, Meg can’t deny her growing attraction to one of the dashing Spanish courtiers. But it’s hard to trust her heart in a place where royal formalities and masked balls hide the truth: not everyone is who they appear to be. Meg’s mission tests every talent she possesses, even her loyalty to her fellow Maids. With danger lurking around every corner, can she stay alive—and protect the crown?

Great excitement marked her steps.She was moving fast,The kind of pace that starts with easeBut can never last.The darkness came down far too quick,A light put out, she turned.Her face, it spoke of sly delight,The power of what she’d learned.But then he bore down swift and still,His hands around her neck.His blade it flashed into the night,No pity or regret.His task was only that she died.His cuts, howe’er, were those of pride.And as he stole away, he smiled,His light eyes dead, his dark hair wild.”

This was one of the few historical fiction books that I read this year, but I think this one was one of my absolute favorites. It actually makes me wonder whether Queen Elizabeth did have a group of maiden spies in her employ, making sure that she was well protected and that any threats made to the crown and England were snuffed out. If anything, it sounds really exciting, whether it really happened or not. It also makes me wonder just how dangerous it would have been to be a spy during this time, without the kind of technology that we have access to today.

This book did a great job at opening this world to my eyes, and I was sad to leave it, although I probably won’t be leaving it for long.

We start the novel with our main character, Meg, who just so happens to be one of the best pickpockets in the Golden Rose Theatre Troupe. She has never gotten caught by any of her marks and has been successful in all of the tasks that she’s had to accomplish. Well, there’s always a first for everything, and she does end up being caught. This changes her life forever, and she finds herself under the protection of Queen Elizabeth of England. She becomes one of the Queen’s Maids of Honor, a group of female spies whose sole duty is to protect the Queen by using espionage and any other means necessary.

This is a time where having a Queen on the throne, without a King at their side, was pretty much unheard of. Queen Elizabeth refused to marry, and that alone has caused a lot of drama and tension in Europe. So many people around Europe during this time don’t think that a Queen should be in control without a King being in command. There are also those who don’t believe that England should be under the control of a Protestant since England used to be mostly Catholic. That’s two big reasons why there are those that would want to see Elizabeth fail, or worse. The Maids of Honor are there to make sure that doesn’t happen.

While Meg is considered the “Rat” of the group, known for having to tell secrets to the Queen and her spymasters, she ends up learning who she is as a person, and she is definitely not who she thought she was.

I was really impressed with this book, and I’m so glad that I finally got to read it. All of the Maids have their own assets that they bring to this group of spies, and I love that each of them are entirely different from each other. I can’t wait to find out what else happens during Meg’s time at Windsor, under the protection of the Queen.

Rated: 5/5 

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