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​The story of three courageous women and their struggles to survive

during the bloodiest war ever fought on English soil.


​Queen Henrietta Marie

​England's Catholic Queen is beset by a hostile Parliament seeking to be rid of her. 

​Leaving her precious children and her beloved husband behind, she flees to the

continent  to raise money for the King's army​. ​She is determined to keep her

promise to the pope that her marriage to the Protestant King will make

England  a better place for all English Catholics while ​maintaining her

fierce loyalty to her faith and her beloved husband, Charles I.



​​​Lucy Hay, Countess of Carlisle, 

As civil war breaks out in England, ​one time favorite to the Queen and London's

most celebrated hostess, Lucy Hay is faced with the reality of her fading

beauty and waning influence. Armed only with her wits, she is forced

to find her footing as the ground shifts ​beneath her. ​ But regardless

of who  wins the struggle between Parliament and the Cavaliers,

Lucy still has a few powerful friends on both sides

and she is determined ​to survive.



Lady Caroline Pendleton

​​(fictional character)

​Young wife to a kindly, older wool merchant, Caroline's happy, pastoral existence

is shattered and ​her life forever changed ​when her newly knighted husband is

called  into the King's service. Her London girlhood had not been a bed of

​roses and she was not afraid of hardship, but her experiences hustling

​baked goods on the London streets, did little to prepare her for the

horrors and hardships of a bloody civil war.​


Their stories are very different and yet they are the same. Their lives become chaotic, their futures uncertain, their losses profound as families, home and kingdom break apart around them.



​​Praise for previous books

Publisher's Weekly calls the novel "...enthralling..compelling...brilliantly sketched...absorbing, expertly  told..." (starred review) Library Journal says The Illuminator is a "remarkable first novel ...depicts this complex period with imagination and care." (starred review) Praise from Booklist: "Her details and deft storytelling create a luminescent and very readable portrait of a dark time in history."

Audiofile magazine honored The Illuminator with an AudioFile Earphones Award for the Audio Renaissance edition of the novel. Congratulations to Simon Jones for his excellent narration of the text. The recorded version is available in both cassette (unabridged) and CD (abridged) formats from Audio Renaissance.

Publisher's Weekly says "Vantrease tells an engaging story and paints a vivid picture of 15th-century Europe . . ." Kirkus Reviews calls THE MERCY SELLER an "engrossing follow-up to THE ILLUMINATOR." Library Journal says "The many readers who liked Vantrease's debut, THE ILLUMINATOR . . . will be pleasantly surprised by this satisfying sequel . . . The same lovely period detail and attention to historical realities of the first book are here maintained." BookPage says "By turns exotic, mystical, regal and romantic, the story surges forward to a satisfying end. Anyone with an interest in European or Church history, religious movements or book arts will find this novel addicting." The Nashville Tennessean says "(The Mercy Seller) vibrates with specific details and with characters who leap off the page and haunt the reader."

THE HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY says Brenda Vantrease is "an author who has a unique ability to build a story and develop characters"--(Editor's Choice Review)


© 2013 Brenda Rickman Vantrease