An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason

An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason

When Lady Katherine's father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn't the only secret he's been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father's mission, and to take it one step further-...

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Title:An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason
Author:Virginia Boecker
Rating:
Edition Language:English

An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason Reviews

  • Mackenzi

    Blurb of Officialness: "An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason is a thrilling, immersive romp through Shakespeare's London, and all the intrigue, alliances, and politics that shaped it. Helmed by two feisty leading players who I fell in love with as they fell for each other, and with snappy, energetic prose that will appeal to both fans of historicals and contemporaries, there's something here for everyone. I devoured this book with ravenous joy. Bravo!"

  • Lisa

    This is such a fun unique take on historical fiction. Shakespeare, romance, disguised gender and, you know, plotting murder, made for one excellent story.

    This is a great standalone I highly recommend.

  • Katherine Moore

    Did you know that Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was written to capture the would-be assassin of Queen Elizabeth I?!

    And what do you get when you combine a cross-dressing Catholic called Katherine Arundell, out to avenge the death of her father, and put her slap-dab in the middle of merry old London?

    ‘An Assassin’s Guide to Love & Treason’, of course, and it’s quite scrumptious.

    This romp through 1601 will have you questioning any history you may think you’ve learned about Elizabethan London, abou

    Did you know that Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was written to capture the would-be assassin of Queen Elizabeth I?!

    And what do you get when you combine a cross-dressing Catholic called Katherine Arundell, out to avenge the death of her father, and put her slap-dab in the middle of merry old London?

    ‘An Assassin’s Guide to Love & Treason’, of course, and it’s quite scrumptious.

    This romp through 1601 will have you questioning any history you may think you’ve learned about Elizabethan London, about the dalliances of Shakespearean players, and about the tension between the Protestants and Catholics at that time.

    Being from England myself, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a bit of ‘history’ from home to indulge in. I delighted in this witty, clever tale about young Lady Katherine Arundell from Cornwall, who witnesses her father’s execution for being a practicing Catholic. This was because England is now Protestant under Queen Elizabeth I, and to avenge her father’s death, she then goes to London and plans to assassinate Queenie herself. Tall order perhaps.

    Katherine constructs a plan, along with her merry band of Catholic conspirators; this means she must infiltrate the upcoming production of ‘Twelfth Night’, and create a new male identity for herself, Kit.

    This is really at the crux of how clever Virginia Boecker is being with ‘Assassin’s Guide’ (and I know she knows this, because of her most brilliant Author’s Note in the back; only I do hope everyone reads it!). As many of you may know, women weren’t players in Shakespeare’s plays, men were, and they played all the women’s parts too. In order for Katherine to disguise herself in London, she must become Kit (this was a name short for Christopher back then), as well as to be a player on the stage.

    She then gets the part as Viola, who (if you haven’t read ‘Twelfth Night’) dresses up as a man in the play. It all becomes quite complicated when Kit becomes drawn to Toby, who is another lead player, and writer, and unbeknownst to Kit, a spy for Elizabeth Regina; he’s trying to deduce which of the Twelfth Night players is the treasonous one. Yet he’s falling for Kit, just as he did previously for the late Kit Marlowe (that’s Christopher Marlowe to you).

    Katherine’s own confidence as a ‘man’ mirrors Viola’s growing confidence in the play, particularly as Toby and ‘Kit’ rehearse together, and the themes of bisexuality and questions about societal gender norms play like their own characters in the book. Just like the very irony we see in having men play the parts of women (who play men), this is a double irony, if you will, and forces the characters to constantly question their identities, as well as their loyalties. At a time when many only had loyalty to the Crown or to God, questioning your identity was frowned against and was highly confusing, and naturally left you open to being cast out by all sorts of weaknesses such as witchcraft and going back to the Old Religion (Catholicism). You certainly didn’t admit to liking the same sex, even if you did put on a dress for all to see in the Globe Theatre.

    The ‘supporting cast’ of William Shakespeare, the Wright Brothers, and even the Queen, lend so much color to the tapestry that Boecker has woven for this ‘Guide’, and readers will love it when familiar names and places appear in the story. I’d also say there’s a little bit of everything here to make this an all-round great read: we start off with a murder, and then we have action, romance, and a lot of wit and charm. Shakespeare would approve of all of that.

    Virginia has actually taken great pains to do her research and in her Author’s Note points out where she has meddled with the history and where she has kept to the facts. I absolutely loved this small part of the book, as well as the long bibliography she has listed.

    While you may not come out with a proper Elizabethan history lesson, or an actual assassin’s guide, you will be thoroughly entertained, and may (like myself) be inclined to read up on your English history and to even re-read some Shakespeare!

    This was a solid 5 star read for me.

    Jolly good show.

    **I played Maria in my high school performance of ‘Twelfth Night’.

  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

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    🦇 Read for the

    for the category of:

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    I was initially going to post lots of status updates for this book, because I feel like that is what you are

    to do when you manage to finagle a prized ARC like this one - but instead I knocked it back like it was a glass of drinkable wine and I was trying to get drunk off of it. Wh

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    🦇 Read for the

    for the category of:

    🦇

    I was initially going to post lots of status updates for this book, because I feel like that is what you are

    to do when you manage to finagle a prized ARC like this one - but instead I knocked it back like it was a glass of drinkable wine and I was trying to get drunk off of it. What I'm trying to say is that it was good. Really good. Defies expectations good.

    AN ASSASSIN'S GUIDE TO LOVE AND TREASON, despite the cutesy title, is actually a very dark story. It is set during the times of Elizabethan England. The heroine, Katherine, is the daughter of an illegal Catholic and sees him murdered before her eyes. Naturally, she wants revenge and seeks out his associates who are in the middle of a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth and replace her with a Catholic ruler. Her plan? To dress up as a boy and join a group of performers who are performing

    before the Queen...and then assassinate her during the last act.

    The hero, Toby, is a spy in the employ of the Queen's spymaster. He's part of the intelligence behind Katherine's father's murder, and is determined to ferret out the rest of the culprits. His plan is to work with William Shakespeare to create a play that appears to be sympathetic to Catholics (called Twelfth Night) that will be performed before the Queen. Surely, the would-be assassins won't be able to resist the trap, and when they do, they'll be waiting. To be absolutely sure that he's got the right person, he'll be acting in the play. He doesn't expect to fall for his opposite though; the attractive "boy" who plays his love interest, Viola-Cesario to his Duke Orsino.

    So yes, it sounds cheesy, and it was, a little. But it was also action-packed and reminded me of some of the

    YA I've read, like POISON STUDY or GRAVE MERCY or even THE WINNER'S CURSE. Books that are well-written and don't look down on their audience, and feature heroines who actually have agency and don't just sit around twiddling their thumbs while pining away over the love interest. I can't tell you how happy I was to see a few F-bombs dropped in this book, or to have actual grievous consequences looming over the two star-crossed lovers. Also, this is a cross-dressing romance, which is a secret weakness of mine, but it tackles head-on what most of those types of books only skirt around: the hero is bisexual, and reacts in a very believable way to finding out Kit is a girl (unlike some of those other books, where the hero is like, "Woohoo! Thank God I'm not gay!")

    This book is very gay, and in the best possible way. I think you should read it.

    4.5 stars

  • Sylvie

    4/5 Stars

    This book has all the ingredients I never knew I needed to see gathered in one book:

    Elizabethian era ✔

    Girl disguises herself as a boy ✔

    Takes place during the Anglo-Spanish War ✔

    Plotting an assassination against Elizabeth I ✔

    Both protagonists have to perform in a Shakespearean play, presumably "Twelfth Night" ✔

    Young spy ✔

    Revenge ✔

    From enemies to lovers (probably) ✔

    -Basically everything, most of them I mentioned in my pre-reading thoug

    4/5 Stars

    This book has all the ingredients I never knew I needed to see gathered in one book:

    Elizabethian era ✔️

    Girl disguises herself as a boy ✔️

    Takes place during the Anglo-Spanish War ✔️

    Plotting an assassination against Elizabeth I ✔️

    Both protagonists have to perform in a Shakespearean play, presumably "Twelfth Night" ✔️

    Young spy ✔️

    Revenge ✔️

    From enemies to lovers (probably) ✔️

    -Basically everything, most of them I mentioned in my pre-reading thoughts.

    -The Dual point of views was great, because if it were only from one POV it'd have leaned on the dull side. Plus it gave us the chance to see more insights on the characters' purposes.

    -The politics and the conflict between Catholics and Protestants, and significant historical events alike have always fascinated me.

    -Seeing or more like reading Shakespeare as himself being a part of the book.

    -Most of the things that happened in the book were based on true events, thus the author didn't make all of this fictional except the main protagonists.

    -Katherine became braver, straight-forward and open minded while disguising herself as boy. Being Kit made her know what she really wants and how she should handle things around her without being a damsel in distress like most women were during the medieval era.

    -The play that both Toby and Katherine were acting in started colliding with their lives outside the play. Meaning: Both Viola (from Twelfth Night) and Katherine disguising themself as boys and their ''opponents'' starting to have feelings towards them. The entire book felt like I was reading a Shakespearian plot with crossdressers and star-crossed lovers.

    -The author's note is a MUST if you read this book. Seriously, do not skip that part.

    I can't really give a particular reason, but...

    -The reason I didn't give this higher than 4 stars was because of the ending. I was satisfied with it, however I wanted a full closure on each and every character.

    -Not getting enough flashbacks on Toby's past.

    -The novel could've added more details about the religious aspect along with Christopher Marlowe.

    -The entire ending felt a bit rushed to me.

  • Fatma

    Enjoyable, but not the best thing I've ever read.

    RTC

  • Lola

    Two years ago, I read the first book in the author’s fantasy series – The Witch Hunter – and, surprisingly, I rated it 3.5 stars as well.

    What does this mean? Well, like The Witch Hunter, this one was easy to read and fast-paced. I enjoyed reading about the two main characters, two people who both have distinct personalities and back-stories that help us understand where they’re coming from.

    The concept is also original. Who has ever heard of putting on a play to kill a king or queen? This was th

    Two years ago, I read the first book in the author’s fantasy series – The Witch Hunter – and, surprisingly, I rated it 3.5 stars as well.

    What does this mean? Well, like The Witch Hunter, this one was easy to read and fast-paced. I enjoyed reading about the two main characters, two people who both have distinct personalities and back-stories that help us understand where they’re coming from.

    The concept is also original. Who has ever heard of putting on a play to kill a king or queen? This was the first time I heard of it, and I certainly do wonder now what else the author is going to come up with in the future. Surely it’ll be an astonishing idea as well.

    But although it is unique and not at all a chore to read, there was something missing, the same thing that, if I remember correctly, was missing in The Witch Hunter too. The reason for my inability to give it four stars or more. And that thing is… seriousness.

    Somehow, I couldn’t feel the danger. Both Katherine and Toby step into trouble at different points in the novel, and yet I was already imaging how they would step out of it. In my mind, it was never a question of whether they would get hurt or not—the tone of the story didn’t make me believe any scene was a matter of life and death.

    As it happens, I also thought it became repetitive after a while, and to create the illusion that it isn’t, in fact, repetitive, the author weaved these romantic scenes that sometimes make it feel as though we’re not reading about an assassination plan anymore but about two star-crossed lovers.

    That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you enjoy romance in your Historical Fiction reads and are excited by the idea of a woman dressing as a man and experiencing the world like never before, this is right up your alley. All I’m saying is I did notice the repetition and find that the author could have added more action scenes to the plot and seriousness to the tone.

    But once again, it reads quite well and the characters are three-dimensional. The story is original and entertaining and I genuinely wanted this to become a series at some point and I only wish that for stories with characters I don’t want to immediately say farewell to.

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  • Hailey (HaileyinBookland)

    3.5*

  • Wing-yee (bibliomeds)

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