When Lady Katherine's father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn't the only secret he's been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father's mission, and to take it one step further--kill the queen herself.
Katherine's opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare's newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn't know is that the play is not just a play--it's a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all.
The mastermind behind this ruse is Toby Ellis, a young spy for the queen with secrets of his own. When Toby and Katherine are cast opposite each other as the play's leads, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But the closer they grow, the more precarious their positions become. And soon they learn that star-crossed love, mistaken identity, and betrayal are far more dangerous off the stage than on.
As soon as I read the synopsis of An Assassin’s Guide to Love & Treason by Virginia Boecker, I knew I had to read it. This book is a standalone and it has a fast pace to keep the story moving and if you like historical books focused on a plot for murder, I think you should pick this one up.
The story focuses on two main characters, Lady Katherine and Toby Ellis. Everything really kicks off when Katherine’s father is executed for being a practicing Catholic, a dangerous thing in those times. Katherine makes a run for it and heads to London so she can avenge his death. I loved Katherine. She could have easily given herself up when her father was killed. Instead, she decides to do whatever she can to get back at the one person she knows is responsible for his death, the Queen.
As part of the plan, Katherine changes who she is and becomes Kit, a boy playing the part of a girl in one of Shakespeare’s plays that will be put on specifically for the Queen. Not only does this change give her the access she will need to get her revenge, it also gives her an opportunity to experience London as she never would have been able to as Lady Katherine.
The other major player is Toby, a spy who is working to set a trap for those that are attempting to assassinate the Queen. I found his background to be especially interesting and he is in a precarious position throughout the story. As he is cast, purposefully, as one of the play’s leads alongside Katherine, he attempts to pin down who his main suspects are, and Kit is someone who caches his attention and not only because of his role in the play.
The secondary characters in this story are just as important as the leads. I loved that Boecker made Shakespeare a little crazy…ok maybe more than a little. We have the group of men who are behind Katherine’s revenge, Jory, Sir George Carey, Queen Elizabeth, and several other characters who helped add color to the story and kept things flowing.
I don’t want to say too much about the details here because that is where Boecker’s storytelling really shines. She brought these characters to life for me and pulled me into 17th century England with her descriptions. Having recently read this book and then gone to London shortly after, it was great to see the places referenced in the story and helped me imagine the characters in these places even more.
I really enjoyed this book and as I mentioned, it is a standalone, so you won’t have to worry about any cliffhangers. This book has a great mix of interesting characters, an original story, and of course, you know I love my books with some romance. If you are looking for something historical that will keep you turning the pages to find out what will happen next for everyone, you should definitely check this book out. Not only that, Boecker’s first series was pretty great too! I’m looking forward to whatever Boecker decides to write next as she has me hooked.
Thank you to the publisher for the copy in exchange for an honest review.