Orphan Audrey Thorndale longs for the peaceful life of a convent, but with a younger brother to care for and England’s religious houses falling one by one to Henry VIII’s Reformation, she’ll have to find another way to serve God and country. The Abbot of Glastonbury, aware of Audrey’s dilemma and loathe to see the great treasures of his abbey looted and destroyed, suggests a plan that could save Audrey, the relics, and even the future of Britain…but if she agrees to it, she’ll have to commit treason.
Second son and sometime adventurer, Tobias Seybourne has never left an opportunity unexplored. He’s won the favor of the king and is aiming for knighthood when Abbot Whiting offers him the chance of a lifetime—partner with Audrey, and protect England’s greatest legend. Most importantly? Do it without ever giving the king a reason to suspect more devious purposes simmer beneath Tobias’s charming façade.
With help from the abbot, Audrey and Tobias set in motion a plan to ensure that when the abbey walls crumble, one particular treasure will be safely hidden elsewhere.
But as the abbot points out, the king’s minions keep close account of their plunder, and the contents of Glastonbury’s repository are well documented.
With the king’s men bearing down fast, someone must take the fall…
Source: ARC from author
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
When Henry VIII ruled England, it became imperative to his future to suppress the Catholic Church which meant taking down all the convents and monasteries that had, for centuries stood in his country. Allegra Gray’s Relic Guardians series follows two paths, Henry’s suppression of the monasteries and convents and the journey of one young couple as they commit treason to ensure the safety of some of England’s oldest and most sacred relics.
The Plot: Are you kidding me??? Tudor England (Henry VIII) and Arthurian legend all rolled into one read?? Um, yeah, the plot is pretty awesome!! Henry VIII’s suppression of the religious houses is really just a backdrop (the impetus) for Audrey and Tobias’s secret mission. Though both are incredibly young, they have been entrusted with the sacred duty of guarding the relics (and the body!) related to King Arthur. According to the legend, when the time is right and England needs him most, Arthur will return to save the country. As far as Audrey and Tobias can tell, the suppression of the religious houses is a most dire circumstance and if the situation gets any worse, they are going to need Arthur more than ever. As Henry’s henchmen get ever closer to closing down Glastonbury Abbey, Audrey and Tobias must risk everything to ensure their mission is completed. They watch as their loved ones are hurt and killed, they watch as their beloved abbey is picked and torn apart, and they work in the greatest of secrecy to accomplish their goals. In short, they are committing treason and at every turn, they could forfeit their lives.
The characters: Entrusted is chock full of full-bodied, believable characters both real and imagined. There is so much written about Henry VIII and his court that it is hard to get his character wrong. Gray has written Henry and his henchmen just as history has described them so there isn’t much of a surprise on this front. Audrey, Tobias, and Abbot Whiting are cats of a different color all together.
Audrey is instantly likeable. Since the death of her parents, she has taken on the responsibility of maintaining her family home, working tirelessly at Glastonbury Abbey, and caring for her younger brother. Audrey is somewhat quiet and reserved but also intelligent, courageous, and loving. Though she is initially reluctant to take on such a heavy burden, the proof of her purpose becomes clear and she agrees to guard the legendary king no matter what it may cost her personally. Audrey never herself with a life outside of the church but with the guarding of the relics comes the need for a front, a façade. As a part of the plan, Audrey is betrothed and married to Tobias Seybourne, the second son of a wealthy local family. Audrey has known and liked Tobias for years but this brave new world requires her to do more than like Tobias, she must also love him and carry on the family line.
Tobias is such a good match for Audrey with his strong sense of loyalty, protective nature, and kind disposition. As a second son, Tobias never expected to rise so high in the world but he has become a favorite of King Henry which makes his role in the guarding of the relics all the more treacherous. Marrying Aubrey is no burden at all for Tobias as he has liked her quite a lot for many years. His work with the court often takes him away from home but his absence never lessens his feelings for Audrey. Tobias is committed to Audrey, her younger brother, and their sacred mission. Time and again, Tobias proves himself to be an honorable mate and a most courageous partner for Audrey. He takes a huge number of risks all while maintaining the façade of being a loyal and true member of the King’s court.
Abbot Whiting is a highlight of this read and is the person who brings everything and everyone together. As the Abbot of Glastonbury, Whiting has the tremendous burden of caring for his flock, caring for his clergy, and protecting all the sacred objects entrusted to his keeping. Abbot Whiting can see the writing on the wall and before his abbey falls, he is going to ensure the sacred relics are well hidden and protected. He has known both Audrey and Tobias since they were born, he has watched them grow, and knows, even before they do how good they will be together. Additionally, the abbot knows he can trust both to guard the relics with their very lives. Once he has everyone on board, Abbot Whiting shares with Audrey and Tobias all he knows of the legends of King Arthur and why Audrey, in particular is meant for this mission.
The Bottom Line: If you are at all a fan of Tudor England, Arthurian legend, and/or historical fiction then I heartily recommend giving Entrusted a try! Allegra Gray has woven fact and fiction together in a tale that is a race against time fraught with tension, despair, and some pure happiness. This read has it all, an interesting plot that unfolds at a very reasonable pace, a lot of background/backstory information (of which I am a HUGE fan!), and characters that are so very likeable and easy to get behind and cheer on. This is a YA-level read but I can assure you, I haven’t been YA in a very long time and still thoroughly enjoyed this read. 🙂
Excerpt from Entrusted (Book #1: Relic Guardian Series):
“You are worried that Glastonbury is in peril, and the treasures it holds will end up in the king’s coffers.”
“Yes—and no.” He eyes me. “It’s more complicated than that. You must not repeat anything you are hearing right now.”
“No, Father Abbot. Never.” If there is one thing I am, it is loyal.
“When I combine what I know—what I, myself have seen and heard—with what the monks who have already lost their homes tell me, I see a future in which certain relics of Glastonbury never make it to the king’s coffers, but are destroyed instead.” He shakes his head sadly. “The idea that the holy relics would go into the king’s hands was disturbing enough, but to destroy them? Sacrilege.
“Again, I must emphasize the importance of not repeating this conversation—to anyone. Not even Sam. The Treason Act is too loosely interpreted these days to take chances.”
I gulp, cursing myself for giving in to curiosity. Now it is my hands that tremble. I should tell him to stop, that I don’t want to hear any more, but my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth. I should never have asked what was troubling him. And yet, I have the sense we have set on an irrevocable course, and I must see it through.
Finally, I pry my tongue loose. “I appreciate your honesty, Father Abbot.”
“Should Glastonbury fall, the treasures that can be measured in gold and silver will most certainly find a new home—whether it be the royal treasury or a pilferer’s stash. It is the others that trouble me.”
He rubs his temples, as though even thinking hurts. I begin moving about the room again, straightening things, dusting surfaces…the little, normal, everyday movements that I know, somehow, provide the backdrop of comfort that Abbot Whiting needs right now.
“You remember those visitors from Walsingham? They informed me that the shrine there, the shrine to the Virgin, which the king himself has visited, has been destroyed. The statue of the Virgin removed, the shrine itself despoiled, and the buildings looted. The same happened at Roche Abbey this summer.”
Finally, it sinks in, and I know exactly which of Glastonbury’s relics—one with no value in gold, but still of immeasurable worth—is troubling him so.
I stop dusting. My tongue, now loosened, does not have the sense to stop.
“If Glastonbury falls, what will become of King Arthur?”
About the author and where to find her:
Allegra Gray grew up with her nose in a book and her head in the clouds—that is, when she wasn’t focused on more practical things like, say, learning calculus. Perhaps all those stories inspired a spirit of adventure, because at the age of seventeen she embarked on a career journey that has (so far) included serving as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, grad school at Virginia Tech, teaching English, and managing defense contracts in the Middle East. The best thing about this breadth of experience? When she tried her hand at writing novels like the ones she’d always loved, she recognized at once that she’d found a true passion. Her forthcoming series, The Relic Guardians, is genre-bending mainstream/historical suspense, inspired by her long-held desire to unveil things obscured by the mists of time. Allegra is also the author of four historical romances, including the “Daring Damsels” trilogy of Nothing But Scandal, Nothing But Deception, and Nothing But Trouble.