Not gonna waste a lot of time recounting everything about the plot of All The Queen's Players, because quite honestly, there's just too much. Rosamund Walsingham, cousin to Sir Francis Walsingham, Master Secretary to Queen Elizabeth I, goes to court in order to learn secrets for her cousin and ends up disgracing herself, only to be sent to the prisoner Mary Queen of Scots to spy. With this much going on in the novel, you would think the action would be fast and furious. It's not.
Actually, All The Queen's Players has a decent plot overall, with tons of intrigue and romance set against the Elizabethan era. Parts of it were quite exciting and it was easy to believe events transpired (mostly) as written. But I just never warmed up to the heroine Rosamund, who seemed to throw away her chances way too easily and was a tad too modern in her views, especially in her tolerance for her brother's homosexuality. In a world where a queen was executed for her beliefs, Rosamund's "realization" that she wasn't particularly religious felt hollow, and it certainly didn't take her very long to awaken to her exuberant sexuality. The side plot with the chevalier and countess was totally unnecessary (besides adding salaciousness) and the ending was rushed, almost as though the author wasn't sure how to end her story after all the backstabbing and wrangling for position.
Rant time: Are publishers even employing editors anymore? Several times I was yanked out of the reading by passages such as: "The subject distresses you." "It is a distressing subject." (page 330) (quote)Rosamund straightened, tucking a loose strand of russet hair whipped loose (unquote), page 356 The repetition of wording in consecutive sentences was not only redundant, it was irritating. Other pet peeves of mine were the use of comma spliced sentences and the rapid changes in points of view, often even within the same paragraph. These issues made it hard for me to enjoy the author's superior vocabulary otherwise, and should easily have been caught by an editor.
All the Queen's Players has a good deal to recommend it, and Feather has been an author I've enjoyed in the past. I just feel that a lack of true focus on what was to be accomplished would have greatly helped this book along. Was it a romance? A tale of intrigue? A straight historical? You will have to read it to decide. Rounding up from 2.5 stars because I liked it...it was just too easy to poke holes.