Tuesday 11 August 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Honey and the Sting - E C Fremantle

Be drawn into this compelling, transfixing novel about the bond between three sisters from the author of The Poison Bed

Three sisters.

Three secrets.

Three ways to fall . . .

England, 1628.

Forcibly seduced by the powerful George Villiers, doctor's daughter Hester is cast aside to raise her son alone and in secret. She hopes never to see Villiers again.

Melis's visions cause disquiet and talk. She sees what others can't - and what has yet to be. She'd be denounced as a witch if Hester wasn't so carefully protective.

Young Hope's beauty marks her out, drawing unwelcome attention to the family. Yet she cannot always resist others' advances. And her sisters cannot always be on their guard.

When Villiers decides to claim his son against Hester's wishes, the sisters find themselves almost friendless and at his mercy.

But the women hold a grave secret - will it be their undoing or their salvation?

Because in the right hands, a secret is the deadliest weapon of all . . .

What did I think?

I have to say that the cover of this book is absolutely beautiful and although I read it in ebook form, I think it's definitely worth picking up a physical copy.  The cover may be fantastic but it's nothing compared to the story within which completely blew me away.  I have read and enjoyed an E C Fremantle book before but The Honey and the Sting is nothing short of exceptional.  This is historical fiction at its finest.  

I didn't realise how much of real history was included in the story until I started googling, as I often do when a story grips me so much that I have to find out more.  The Duke of Buckingham is often cast as a baddie due to their closeness to the crown and their addiction to power.  The 1st Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers, is one of the main characters in the book and what a vile character he is.  After impregnating Hester and casting her out of his household, he turns up eight years later demanding his son but he leaves empty handed when Hester reveals that she has a secret that would take Villiers down.  Knowing she only has a temporary reprieve, Hester has no alternative but to leave her home and go into hiding with her two sisters and her son, but the Duke of Buckingham's reach is vast and Hester doesn't know who she can trust.

I loved the relationship and the unbreakable bond between the three sisters: Hester, Melis and Hope.  Melis has an affinity for bees and she tells Hester about the honey and the sting, how something can be both sweet and sharp or good and bad.  Melis also has the gift of foresight but this is often taken with a pinch of salt, until several of her predictions come true.  Hester hopes that they can remain hidden from the Duke long enough for the predicted event to happen, but she doesn't know that there is a wasp in their nest.

Set in the 17th Century, The Honey and the Sting may be historical fiction but it reads like a modern day thriller.  It's fast-paced, gripping and intriguing which I find is quite unusual for historical fiction.  The real characters and historical facts are seamlessly woven into the story with enough intrigue to warrant further research; I certainly know a lot more about George Villiers now.

With clever plotting and sublime writing, The Honey and the Sting is an exceptional book and E C Fremantle deserves a virtual round of applause.  Without doubt a 5 star rating for this very highly recommended book.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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