Sex was his weapon.

Joan Larke is everything a Tudor virgin should be; she has beauty, innocence and piety. But her ambitious brother throws all this away without a moment’s hesitation when the up-and-coming Tom Wolsey casts his lustful eyes on her.

Being little more than a mere chattel to the men who should protect her, Joan is thrust into the intrigues of the salacious Tudor court, where virtue has no value and ambition is the order of the day.

Her lover, 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 each one, under duress, into an informer 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 that she is no longer wanted and in peril of spending the rest of her life in a convent, she turns to Lady Anne Boleyn, who is rapidly supplanting Queen Catherine in Henry’s affections. But treachery is a double-edged sword, and the betrayer often becomes the betrayed in the shadowy world of Tudor court intrigue.

Although many before her have ended up disappearing or going under the headsman’s axe because their usefulness was over, Joan hoards secrets she can trade, for her life is on the line as the would-be queen and the ruthless cardinal battle behind the scenes to secure the favour—and love—of their king.

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Excerpt

And then he pulled back, and smiled. “You are a maid yet, I see. Your hands remain loosely at your side. I will teach them to give me as much pleasure as your mouth just did.”

“Sir?”

“Tell me, is there somewhere we can go to be more comfortable? I am not a man to deflower a virgin over her brother’s table.”

She blushed at his bluntness.

“But the servants?”

“Never mind them now.” He bent down to kiss her and took her hand. He steered it to the front of his cassock. She had never felt a man’s hardness before. “This needs taking care of.”

It seemed all reason was banished from her mind, and her only focus was a strange ball of fire, kindling low in her womb. She knew instructively it was a fire that could be quenched in only one way. She nodded silently, and leading him by the hand, took him out through a different door that led to a large oak staircase.

As they climbed the great stairs, she was shocked by her own wantonness. But now was not the time to examine her motives. She stopped outside her chamber door, and turned to face him. He was right there, his lips immediately on hers, his mouth a little harder, the exploration of his tongue a little more deliberate. He held her close, and once again put her hand on his member. It excited him to have her touch him there, and he groaned aloud as she explored his shape through his cassock. He pushed her backward as he reached behind her to open the door, and ever so gently nudged her inside. Once in, he closed the door quietly behind him.

“I have thought about nothing but you since we met,” he said.

Nor I you. But she did not say so. His hand stroked her neck, and he took a moment to admire the outline of his prize.

“Let me see you.”

He did not hesitate to remove her kirtle and dress, leaving her vulnerable in just her smock. He held out her arms and admired her form via the dim candlelight.

“Take off your headdress.”

She moved to her dressing table and removed both the gabled headdress and coif, shaking her black curls so they tumbled freely over her shoulders. Suddenly Wolsey was behind her, his hands cupping her breasts through the light fabric, rekindling the swelling fire below. His gentle kisses followed the line of her neck and up to her ears, and she leaned back into him, anxious to feel more.

One hand slid down and she felt the folds of her smock rise up and up, stroking the flesh of her thigh, teasing her every inch of the way. Up and up, and over her head, the smock was removed and fell in a crumpled heap at her feet. The almoner stood back, and when she moved to cover her modesty with her arms, he shook his head again and repeated, “Let me see you.”

Taking both of her hands in his, he spread them wide and gazed down on her vulnerable body. For a moment he remained in reverent awe, then he picked her up and carried her over to the bed, laying her gently upon it. The almoner fell to his knees and pulled her hips to him. His hot lips now kissed the inside of the thighs, up, up and up, until he was face to face with her womanhood. She closed her eyes as he penetrated the folds of her person, alternating between kissing and licking, as he familiarized himself with that most sacred spot.

What am I feeling? She covered her eyes with her arm. The sensations she felt were so new, yet so natural. She should feel shame, her reason told her so, yet her reason had no place in this moment. The almoner sought out the small spot at the top of her womanhood, and was now sucking on it like a greedy infant.

“Oh, God.”

The flame he had kindled earlier was now stoked to such intensity she couldn’t stop herself from crying out. And then she felt a firm finger press inside her, adding to her tension, and her knees contracted, even draped as they now were around the good man’s shoulders. And then the fire burst free in her body, no longer content to burn in just her womb, and the inferno lashed violently throughout her whole being, and she felt she would die from the pleasure.