Rosamund Walsingham has lived a country lifestyle, but all of that is about to change as she is about to have her first exciting taste of the sophistication of Queen Elizabeth's court. She is eager to learn the intricacies of court life, little does she expect the subtleties of intrigue and the true dangers of petty jealousies. Her cousin is Frances Walsingham, the Queen's secretary, who has big plans to use Rosamund's extraordinary artistic talent for his intricate spying network, and knows how to exploit all situations into his best interest.
While in London, Rosamund is introduced to the theater, a part of society that she is not supposed to enter, yet she finds a way enjoy. She meets the dashing Will Creighton, an aspiring play-write and courtier, whom she knows is an unsuitable match, yet she can not seem to keep away.
When scandal tears her away from Will and court, she finds herself thrust into the household of the dethroned Mary Queen of Scots. Deeper secrets await her, as she is now forced to play a part in a plot to trap treasonous persons. Can Rosamund fulfill the demands of her cousin and not lose herself?
Unfortunately ALL THE QUEEN'S PLAYERS fell totally flat for me. Jane Feather used to be an auto buy author for me, with a strong voice showcasing fast moving tales of action, suspense, romance and passion, but she seems to have lost that voice. With this book I wasn't expecting a romance, but I was expecting a good story. Instead I felt that it just seemed to drag on and on. The plot never really went anywhere…it just stagnated. The court intrigue lacked any spark of adventure; the petty jealousies didn't feel very malicious, even though I felt that was the intent.
Potentially interesting characters were quickly blended into the mix of blandness. Rosamund had some great qualities; she was spunky, outspoken and independent without being annoying. When she had to reign in her personality, she usually did so without being too stubborn. She was supposed to be a spy for her uncle, but that was quickly lost in the everyday nonsense of court life, and I became bored with it. Kit, Thomas and Will were all characters that I wish grew more with the story, and each time I thought they were about to do something interesting, they would just ride off and get drunk or just disappear.
With the minimum romance between Will and Rosamund, there was a teeny tiny hint of Ms. Feather's former voice of passion, but that too very quickly petered out. I would have rather she wrote no love scenes, than the lame attempts she included. I don't know if she or her editor felt that because this is general fiction and not romance that the spark needed to be toned down, but I felt that was a mistake, as it just made the characters that much more impersonal and I lost any inkling of a connection to them.
There was so much I thought Ms. Feather could have expanded upon, but instead she just seemed to jump from one scene to the next without ever completing or accomplishing anything. Maybe if she had focused on the just the action and secrets of the theater life or just the intrigues of Elizabeth's court, she could have told a more focused tale, but by trying to mix them both together she seemed discombobulated and generally all over the place, while getting nowhere. When any action did happen, it seemed to have been hastily shoved into the storyline without being smoothly worked into plot.
This book could not end soon enough. But when it did it got even worse. I wasn't surprised by the ending, but it did tick me off. I will admit that I came close to shedding a tear, not because I was so enwrapped in the characters lives, but because it seemed so senseless. It rather came out of nowhere and seemed to be there just to tie up a loose end. Though I did like the epilogue, but I wished that what led up to that scene could have played a part in the storyline...what can I say, I'm a romance fan at the heart of it all.