I have heard about C. W. Gortner before, but The Tudor Secret is the first book of his I have read. My overall impression is that the book reflects some knowledge of Tudor times and some research, but is generally on the light side, with a fairly predictable plot.
Brendan Prescott is a servant of the powerful Dudley family, a foundling who has been mistreated by the Dudleys all of his life. He is surprised when he is removed from the stables and given training as a body servant. He is dismayed when he is sent to court to wait on the cruel Robert Dudley.
He is almost immediately thrust into dangerous circumstances as he tries to help the Princess Elizabeth see her dying brother, King Edward. Edward’s regent Northumberland, Robert’s father, is trying to keep everyone away from the king.
Elizabeth is in contention for the throne against her half-sister Mary. But Northumberland is trying to manipulate his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, and his son Lord Guildford Dudley, onto the throne. Soon, Brendan finds himself spying for William Cecil to help Princess Elizabeth.
Although the Tudor era was a turbulent time, involving much intrigue and a lot of paranoia, I felt that some of the plots suggested in the book were absurd, such as Northumberland poisoning Edward so that he can put himself on the throne. I understand from reading one of the reviews on Amazon that this was an early book by Gortner and not up to his usual level, so perhaps I will try another.