Beware the Lizard Lurking (The House of the Red Duke, Book Two)
Yuletide Press (2021)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Reviews (01/2022)
“Beware the Lizard Lurking” is the second offering in this author’s incredible Tudor series, a lavishly detailed historical novel that is as entertaining as it is immersive.
You are immediately brought into the story, set in 1513, where a clandestine wedding is about to unfold. The one person who can’t know about it is Henry VIII. Guests arrive at the castle uninvited, which puts a spin on things to come. Lord Treasurer Howard advises the king to avoid a holy war with France, but Wolsey, the King’s almoner, would like nothing more than for His Highness to bring the holy war into existence.
As you read this well-researched and meticulous novel, you will experience what life must have been like during this time period, and find yourself caught up in the drama of history as the author unveils it. What I appreciated at the start of the book were the character descriptions, which introduce you to Tristan, Nicolas, Stewart, Thomas, etc., and helps prepare you for the plot to unwind. Each character is finely drawn and distinct, and they have to be on guard for things to come. Each has his or her idea of what they want out of life, but things don’t always turn out as planned. This novel will remind you of the richly crafted, Oscar-worthy sagas you find on screen, and I just love how Brereton brings the characters and settings into their full, colorful glory. The glossary at the end is helpful, too.
History becomes real and dramatized, and this is one of the best ways to learn about the people, culture, politics, religion, and traditions of that day and age. Some parts of the book are quite emotional, while others are more sedate and formal, which makes for a good balance and reflects the diverse, multi-layered lives of the characters. You’ll find spies, celebrations, cuisine, wine, villains, heroes, and so much more. A particular favorite of mine is young Henry VIII. The author makes him a living, breathing person that you just don’t get from other history books or documentaries.
I do like the humanity she brings to the characters, as well. These feel like real people with strengths and flaws—even the bad guys. I like Brereton’s sweeping style because she gives you a panoramic view of the drama, which adds so much interest and so many layers to the story and historical events. She is a master at conflict, dialogue, and character development, and her enthusiasm for her subjects really shines through the pages. Fans of “Game of Thrones” and historical dramas will love this book!