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Authors: Laura Andersen

Tags: #Fiction, #Historical, #Sagas, #Romance, #General

The Boleyn Deceit

BOOK: The Boleyn Deceit
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The Boleyn Deceit
is a work of historical fiction. Apart from the well-known actual people, events, and locales that figure in the narrative, all names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to current events or locales, or to living persons, is entirely coincidental.

A Ballantine Books eBook Edition

Copyright © 2013 by Laura Andersen
Reading group guide copyright © 2013 by Random House LLC
Excerpt from
The Boleyn Reckoning
by Laura Andersen
copyright © 2013 by Laura Andersen

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

B
ALLANTINE
and the House colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.
R
ANDOM
H
OUSE
R
EADER

S
C
IRCLE
 … Design is a registered trademark of Random House LLC.

This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book
The Boleyn Reckoning
by Laura Andersen. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Andersen, Laura.
The Boleyn deceit : a novel / Laura Andersen.
pages cm
“A Ballantine Books Trade Paperback Original.”
ISBN 978-0-345-53411-8 (pbk.)—ISBN 978-0-345-53412-5 (ebook)
1. Anne Boleyn, Queen, consort of Henry VIII, King of England,
1507-1536—Fiction. 2. Inheritance and succession—England—Fiction.
3. Deception—England—Fiction. 4. Great Britain—Kings and rulers—Succession—Fiction. 5. Great Britain—History—Tudors,
1485–1603—Fiction. 6. Romance fiction. I. Title.
PS3601.N437A83 2013
813′.6—dc23
2013030966

www.randomhousereaderscircle.com

Cover photograph: © Richard Jenkins

v3.1

PRELUDE
8 February 1547

“Y
OU WILL NOT
tell me what I can and cannot do with my own son!”

If there was one thing to which George Boleyn was accustomed, it was his sister’s temper. Anne had never been known for her retiring personality, which was just as well or she would never have caught Henry’s eye.

And if she had not become the wife of one king and the mother of the next, George knew he would still be a minor gentleman of enormous ambition and small fortune. That meant he did not rise to Anne’s anger. “I am not telling you, the council is. The council that Henry’s will put in place.”

“My son is king now!”

“In name and spiritual right, yes. But he is ten years old, Anne. In practice, it is the regency council that will rule England until William is of age.”

A regency council that had pointedly excluded Anne. There had been child kings before in England, and often their mothers were central to the organization surrounding them. But Henry Tudor, for all his flaws, had always possessed superb political instincts.
He had known that even after all this time, passions ran high against his wife. Anne could not be allowed anywhere near her son except in the most limited maternal capacity.

George Boleyn was another matter. Six months before his death, Henry had made him Duke of Rochford, and in his will the late king named him not only a member of the regency council, but bestowed on him the position of Lord Protector of England until William turned eighteen. Not that George had any illusions about the solidity of his position. He was just slightly less hated than his sister and he would hold power only as long as he could keep the other council members from turning on him.

“You are mother of the King of England,” he said in a softer voice, gentling Anne into listening. “William loves you and that will never change. I know that you would not jeopardize his position for misplaced pride. You would not risk the Catholics combining against him.”

“They would not dare!” But her protest was halfhearted. They would dare all too well, for in their eyes Henry had left only one legitimate child—the Lady Mary, thirty years old and as stubborn and righteous as her mother before her. Henry’s son or not, religion made William’s position as a boy king precarious.

George took his sister’s hands. “Look around you, Anne. Look at where we are standing.”

Grudgingly, she ran her eyes around the high-ceilinged privy chamber in the heart of Windsor Castle’s Upper Ward, reconstructed by Edward III for himself and his queen, Philippa of Hainault. In the midst of winter, the queen’s apartments were a haven of warmth with blazing fires, walls softened by exquisite tapestries, the richness of polished wood, and the sheen of silver and gold décor.

“We have won, Anne,” George continued with persuasive conviction. “We have broken the chains of Catholic tyranny and
opened the way to a new world. William is the promise of all we hoped and dreamed. I will not let him fail.”

As well as a formidable temper, Anne possessed a formidable mind, and she knew he was right. That didn’t stop her from saying caustically, “And yet you will allow Norfolk a seat on the council despite his attainder. If Henry had lived just one day longer, the Duke of Norfolk would be
dead.

“But Henry didn’t live one day longer. And to further punish the duke now would only enrage the Catholics. Don’t worry about him—I prefer my enemies close enough to control. Besides, Norfolk is William’s great-uncle. Pride will stay his hand for now.”

Anne shook herself free of George. Fiercely, she retorted, “You had better be right. And you had better be my voice on that council. William is my son, no one else’s. Don’t you forget it.”

“I won’t.”

But even as George kissed his sister on the forehead, he thought, But if William is to be what we want, the world will need to think of him only as Henry’s son. It is a king I am creating now, whatever the cost.

CHAPTER ONE

Greenwich Palace
21 December 1554

I have but a few minutes before Carrie must dress me for tonight’s festivities. Christmas is nearly here, but tonight’s celebration is rather more pagan. There is to be an eclipse of the moon, and coming as it does on the winter solstice when darkness claims its longest reign, even the most devout are unsettled.

So why not dance and drink and throw our merriment into the dark as a challenge?

Also, there is a visitor at court. His name is John Dee and he is reputed one of the finest minds of the age. He has come to court in the Duke of Northumberland’s company, and William has commanded him to give a private reading of our stars. Only the four of us—for it would not do to let our secrets, past or future, slip into wider circulation.

Despite the cold, every courtyard at Greenwich was filled and more. No one wanted to miss the rare and possibly apocalyptic sight of the moon vanishing into blackness before their eyes. Minuette had barely room to shiver beneath her fur-lined cloak, so closely were people packed on this terrace overlooking the Thames.

She had managed to keep away from the royal party; below her she saw moonlight glinting off Elizabeth’s red-gold hair. William stood near his sister, surrounded as always by men and women. While everyone else’s eyes turned to the heavens, Minuette’s sought a familiar figure in the flickering torchlight. She rather hoped she did not find Dominic standing near William.

A whisper ran collectively through the crowd, transmitting itself more to Minuette’s body than her ear. She looked up: overhead, the edge of the moon’s circle was eaten away. Despite herself, she felt her pulse quicken and wondered what terrible things this might portend.

More terrible than a star’s violent fall?
The voice in her head was Dominic’s, an echo of his impatient skepticism.

Minuette fingered the pendant encircling her neck, tracing the shape of the filigreed star, and smiled. This eclipse is no portent of doom, she assured herself, but a sign of great wonder. And that I can believe.

She watched the blackness bite away at the moon until it was half covered and still moving relentlessly onward. There were murmurs around her, some nervous laughter.

A hand came from behind, anchoring her waist with a solidness she could feel even through the layers of fur and velvet and linen. And then, after much too long, a second hand followed until she was encircled. Minuette made herself keep her eyes open, made herself stand straight and not lean back into the comforting weight behind her. Or perhaps comforting was not the right word—for her heart quickened and her breath skipped.

Although she could count on two hands the times Dominic had touched her since the night of her betrothal, her body knew him instantly, as though it had been waiting for this part of her all her life.

Only in the dark did he dare to touch her, for only in the dark
could they remain unseen. No one must know, not yet. Not a single whisper must cross the court while William (openly betrothed to the French king’s daughter) threw himself in secret at Minuette’s feet, offering his hand, his throne, and his country to her. It would take time for the king’s infatuation to die. And, until it did, no one must suspect either William’s passion or Dominic’s love.

So Minuette laughed and played and worked and flirted as though everything were normal—as though William had not lost his mind and thought himself in love with her—as though her own heart was not fluttering madly inside a cage, wanting only to wing itself to Dominic—as though she had no secrets and everything was as it had been before. She saw Dominic every day and behaved toward him the same as always: playful and young and oh-so-slightly resentful of his lectures.

And then, like tonight, he would touch her, and she thought she might weep with wanting to turn into him and cling.

Instead, she kept her eyes open and directed at the sky as the moon’s last sliver gave up its fight and slid into nothing.

BOOK: The Boleyn Deceit
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ads

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