By Any Other Name

By Any Other Name
Age Range
Release Date
October 10, 2023
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London, 1593. Sixteen-year-old Will Hughes is busy working on Shakespeare’s stage, stuffing his corsets with straw and pretending to be someone else. Offstage, he's playing a part, too. The son of traitors, Will is desperate to keep his identity secret—or risk being killed in the bloody queen’s imperial schemes. All he wants is to lay low until he earns enough coin to return to his family.

But when his mentor, the famous playwright Christopher Marlowe, is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Will’s plans are hopelessly dashed. What’s worse, Marlowe was a spy for the queen, tasked with stalking a killer rumored to be part of an elusive order of assassins, and his secrets and untimely death have put Will under a harsh spotlight. And so, when Will unwittingly foils an attempt on the queen’s life, she names him her next spymaster.

Now, to avoid uncomfortable questions, prison, or an even more terrible fate, Will reluctantly starts his new career, which—yes—will secure him the resources to help his family…but at what cost? Adding insult to injury is the young Lord James Bloomsbury, Will’s new comrade in arms, whose entitled demeanor and unfairly handsome looks get under Will’s skin immediately.

Together, the two hunt the cunning assassin, defend the queen’s life, and pray to keep their own...all while an unexpected connection blossoms between them.

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By Any Other Name
(Updated: November 29, 2023)
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Sixteen-year-old Will Hughes's days as an actor come to a close right when he's whirled into the schemes of Queen Elizabeth. A son of traitors, he plays along, fearing a slip will end him up in prison or worse, dead. Along the way, he meets Lord James Bloomsbury. Even though his lordy manners annoy Will, a connection forms. A connection if found out can have its own deadly consequences.

What worked: Engaging romp through 1593 England filled with dastardly suspense and mystery. Will is used to pretending by acting in plays during Shakespeare's time. He's charming and also loyal to those he counts as friends. When his mentor playwright Marlowe is murdered, Will is fearful of his own secret being uncovered. Conspiracies are everywhere. I like how the author shows Will as being multi-layered with his attempts to find out who killed his friend to whom he can actually trust.

There's a little of everything in this suspenseful historical. The bubbling romance between Will and Lord Bloomsbury is one that is a slow burn. Also, Will's not really sure if he can in fact trust him as Lord James represents everything he despises.

At every turn, something goes wrong. Add to that murders that only increase the mystery behind who is trying to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. In this novel, the Queen is pictured as an unsympathetic ruler who looks down on those not of royal lineage. So those who have links to so-called traitors, like Will, one wrong word can be deadly.

Lots of vivid images of Elizabethian London with a cast of miscreants, royals, and a secret society.

THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE meets Elizabethian London, filled with twists and turns and a surprising reveal.
Good Points
1. Engaging romp through 1593 England
2. GLBTQ romance
3. Mystery, intrigue in Queen Elizabeth's court
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