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Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree

Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree

  • reading group guide

Charming. Desirable. Forbidden. Brought to court with other eligible young noblewomen by the decree of King Henry VIII, lovely Elizabeth “Bess” Brooke realizes for the first time that beauty can be hazardous. Although Bess has no desire to wed the aging king, she and her family would have little choice if Henry’s eye were to fall on her. And other dangers exist as well, for Bess has caught the interest of dashing courtier Will Parr. Bess finds Will’s kisses as sweet as honey, but marriage between them may be impossible. Will is a divorced man, and remarriage is still prohibited. Bess and Will must hope that the king can be persuaded to issue a royal decree allowing Will to marry again . . . but to achieve their goal, the lovers will need royal favor. Amid the swirling alliances of royalty and nobles, Bess and Will perform a dangerous dance of palace intrigue and pulse-pounding passions.

Brought to glowing life by the talented Kate Emerson, and seen through the eyes of a beautiful young noblewoman, By Royal Decree illuminates the lives of beautiful young courtiers in and out of the rich and compelling drama of the Tudor court.
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  • Gallery Books | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439177839 | 
  • December 2010
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Read an Excerpt


On the twenty-ninth day of January in 1542, twenty-six eligible young women sat at table in Whitehall Palace with King Henry. An additional thirty-five occupied a second table close by. We were arranged by precedence, with the highest-born maidens closest to the king. As the daughter of a baron, I was assigned a seat at the first table, but there were others of nobler birth between me and His Grace.

From that little distance, King Henry the Eighth of England was a glorious sight. At first I could scarcely take my eyes off him. He glittered in the candlelight. Not only did he wear a great many jewels on his person,... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Kate Emerson. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


In the third book of Kate Emerson’s Secrets of the Tudor Court series, young lady-in-waiting Elizabeth (Bess) Brooke takes center stage amid the tumultuous times of Tudor-era England. As a young gentlewoman, Bess enters court life a naïve and inexperienced maid. But history, fortune, and love change all of that, as young Bess climbs the noble ranks and witnesses the volatile nature of England’s royal, political, and religious climate. Holding tight to her one true love, Will Parr, Bess learns just how dramatically a life can be affected by royal decree—and how precious each moment truly is.


1. Under whose rule did Bess and Will’s love for each other flourish most? Consider Henry and Kathryn, King Edward, Queen Mary, and Elizabeth Tudor.

2. Would Bess have had a happier, easier life if she had married Harry or Jack?

3. As indicated in the author’s note, all but a few characters in By see more

Articles About This Book


Posted on XOXO After Dark

Posted by episani

Historical fiction author Kate Emerson recounts how a thirty-year-old idea became the inspiration for her "Secrets of the Tudor Court" series.When I was growing up, some of my favorite books were biographies written for young people. I can...

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About the Author

Kate Emerson
Glamour Shots

Kate Emerson

Kate Emerson was born in Liberty, New York, and received an A.B. from Bates College and an M.A. from Old Dominion University. She currently lives in Wilton, Maine. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and other professional organizations. Emerson also writes a Scottish mysteries series as Kaitlyn Dunnett. Visit her at




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