The Cardinal’s Whores
First he loved her – then he betrayed her.
Blackmail, betrayal, and bedroom lust are standard fare in the court of Henry the Eighth. Joan Larke has heard all her young life that this is so, but she is completely unprepared to be dragged into the midst of it. Dragged she is, though, when the beautiful girl falls into the hands of the powerful and power hungry Thomas Wolsey, cardinal, confidant, and finally lord chamberlain to the king.
Wolsey knows how many secrets are passed in the bedchamber, and shamelessly enlists any woman who comes within his influence as his spy. He turns her, under duress, into a whore who brings him information from her pillow talk with the movers and shakers of the early 16th century. But he needs love, too, and he keeps Joan to himself—for a time.
When Joan finds herself no longer wanted and in peril of spending the rest of her life in a nunnery, she turns to Lady Anne Boleyn, who is rapidly supplanting Queen Catherine in Henry’s affections. But treachery is a two-edged sword, and the betrayer often becomes the betrayed in the shadowy world of Tudor court intrigue.
Although Joan has secrets of her own she can trade, in the end, she can do nothing but watch and tremble as the cardinal and the would-be queen battle behind the scenes for the love of their king, and to keep from winding up under the axe, as so many did in those dark days.
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“Love. How easily you speak the word. Yet you hardly know me.”
“I know what I must. Mistress Larke, when we talk of good opinion, do you think so lowly that I would choose to lie with any woman? I, Thomas Wolsey, who have sworn myself to chastity? Believe me, madam, it has not been without careful consideration that I offer myself thus to you. My dignity demands that I consider pairing myself with a woman of the gentle classes. To mate with any other would be untenable.”
She sneered. “And you talk of love.”
“Love will come. Mine is a constant nature. Give yourself to me and I will prove this to you.”
Joan took a sip of wine, though mainly because she needed to hide her eyes from his penetrating gaze. She must think. Her brother was the ambitious one. Not she. And what is all this fine talk to me? And yet I could never be happy in a nondescript, provincial marriage. I would long for something finer, something deeper. Perhaps her brother was not the only ambitious one after all. She looked boldly at the almoner who watched her intently. Could she love him? “And what if you tire of me? What then? Am I to be cast aside with who knows however many bastard children by you, clinging to my skirts? What then?”
Wolsey reflected. “I will not cast you aside. But to ease your mind I will set aside enough wealth that you need never concern yourself on that score.” He looked hopeful. Her questions must have encouraged him.
“I may yet say no.”
“But I trust that you shall not.”
Adrienne lives in the North East, in a rural area surrounded by cows and determined rabbits. She has two cats, both masters of the contemptuous stare, who she idolizes. When she’s not penning for monies she’s either baking something, or driving very long distances for the hell of it. This renders a unique opportunity to ponder her plots and characters; she prides herself on writing the unexpected, and is always cooking up new ways to pleasure her readers. Her favorite genre is twisted history – and applies varying degrees of heat to keep you titillated from beginning to end.
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