The Secret of the Rose
The Secret of the Rose will work for readers on a couple of levels. Those who aren't familiar with the time period and its political intrigue will still enjoy a fairly suspenseful story, while those who are will enjoy putting together the clues and references, which aren't always spelled out for them (Rosalind/Richard doesn't understand all of what's going on, but with the hindsight of history, we do). While Rosalind's fear of persecution and corresponding distrust of everyone come through loud and clear, the cause of her persecution (her religion) isn't emphasized as strongly as in another novel I've recently reviewed, Ann Turnbull's No Shame, No Fear, but readers will still get the picture that Elizabethan England was a very hostile place to those who were different (and an emotionally wrenching episode involving Dutch immigrants will underline this). Full of interesting ideas (including a teensy bit of romance) and suspenseful enough to hold readers' interest, The Secret of the Rose is a recommended read.