Book Review: Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan Book Cover

Book Summary

In this breathtaking start to a series, a secret society of young women make up Elizabeth I’s most trusted royal guard. God Save the Queen—or the Maids will.

Orphan Meg Fellowes makes her living picking pockets—until she steals from the wrong nobleman. Instead of rotting in prison like she expected, she’s whisked away to the court of Queen Elizabeth and pressed into royal service, where she joins four other remarkable girls in the Maids of Honor, the Queen’s secret society of protectors.

Meg’s natural abilities as a spy prove useful in this time of unrest. The Spanish Court is visiting, and with them come devious plots and hidden political motives. As threats to the kingdom begin to mount, Meg can’t deny her growing attraction to one of the dashing Spanish courtiers. But it’s hard to trust her heart in a place where royal formalities and masked balls hide the truth: Not everyone is who they appear to be. With danger lurking around every corner, can she stay alive—and protect the crown?

Book Details

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan
Series: Maids of Honor #1
Published May 7th 2013 by Simon Schuster
Young Adult Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Book Source: Borrowed
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Series Reading Order


Book Review

Jennifer McGowan's debut book MAID OF SECRETS is a delightful new addition to the young adult genre and is set apart from the rest of the crowd with it's lavish historical setting and intriguing mystery.

Set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth's court, and featuring a strong female lead character, MAID OF SECRETS should please fans of historical romantic fiction as well as fans of spy thrillers. For those of you who are on the look out for a new series featuring a bold new heroine, the daring Meg will delight and captivate you.

I thought MAID OF SECRETS was not only fantastic, but also a wonderful change of pace. It was great to have not only a lead female character, but a whole cast of secondary female characters, all in the historical setting of Queen Elizabeth's court.

What is so nice about the story and its setting is that although it is a historical/thriller at heart, the book never gets too bogged down with too many period details. The pace was fast enough to keep me happily turning the pages. The descriptions are fantastic, and leave you feeling as if you're were also a part of Queen Elizabeth's court.  I found the court intrigue and politics fascinating as well as the mystery.

MAID OF SECRETS takes place in England in 1559. Young Meg, who just happens to be not only an orphan, but a fabulous pick-pocketer, travels with the Golden Rose acting troupe taking turns acting on stage as well as lifting anything she can fit into her pockets among London's unsuspecting citizens. When one act of theft goes wrong, she is pressed into a secretive royal service and trained to be one of the Maids of Honor, an all-female guard entrusted to keep Queen Elizabeth safe from danger.

Megs loyalty to her queen as well as her friendship to her fellow Maids of Honor will be tested  when the Spanish Court arrives bringing with it political intrigue and hidden threats to Queen Elizabeth. As Meg uses her unique skills to try and discover who is behind the threats to the Queen, she realizes it just may be the same dashing Spanish Courtier she has lost her heart to.

I have to say that the female characters really did shine in MAID OF SECRETS. Of course, Meg was my favorite with her quick-wittiness and humor she easily won me over. A true heroine to root for. Jane, Beatrice, Sophia and Anna are all great secondary characters, each having their own "specialty" as spies for the Queen, making the Maids of Honor a very interesting group. Then there was of course the majestic Queen Elizabeth herself, often just behind the scenes, setting the stage for the courtly intrigue. And of course there was Rafe, the daring and handsome Spanish Courtier who had some secrets of his own. I thought he was a perfect fit as romantic interest for Meg.

I really enjoyed the romance in the story and I liked how it never overshadowed the mystery aspect of the story, but rather complimented it.

The touch of his mouth was a sparking flint strike, and suddenly heat flooded through me like mead drunk too fast, burning its way through my body and lifting me along a current of excitement and urgency unlike anything I’d ever felt before.

In the End

Jennifer McGowan does a great job giving just enough closure to MAID OF SECRETS to keep the reader happy, but leaves the door open for the next installment. I can't wait to find out more about Meg and the mystery behind who she really is.