Shortlisted in the ‘Best Historical Read’ category for the 2013 Festival of Romance Reader Awards

Post hardback publication reviews:

“In my almost five years of reviewing… there have been a few times, and only a few, when I have been completely and totally blown away by a book that I’ve read. This usually happens when there is a happy confluence of subject matter, writing prowess, research skill and character development, wrapped up in a believable, action filled story. If you haven’t already guessed, The Lost Duchess, by Jenny Barden, is one of those books…  The last few chapters are suspenseful, dramatic, and satisfying in their resolution. It’s at this point that the pages practically turned by themselves. Revelations come fast and furious; love and life are affirmed between father and son, friends, and lovers.  I did not want it to end.”
Debra RossBookishly Attentive

“The Lost Duchess is an exciting, exotic and tantalising tale… a rollercoaster ride to the far reaches of the New World where romance, suspense and action prove an addictive mix.
A cast of well-rounded characters – both real and fictional – play out their personal and public dramas against an epic backdrop that moves from the claustrophobic corridors of London’s palaces to the alien strangeness of Virginia.
Barden’s fascinating take on the colonial conundrum of Roanoke is both gripping and plausible and establishes this dedicated history lover as an author with her eye on the passion, the plot and the past.”
Pam Norfolk – Lancashire Evening Post

“It is always a bit worrying to read an author’s second novel when the first one was so good. No need to worry about Ms Barden’s second masterpiece though! Dive in and enjoy!”
Helen Hollick – author of Harold the King

“Satisfying both Tudor fans and early Americana alike, you will be riveted by this fast paced adventure and intriguing tale of what could have happened to the ill-fated ‘Lost Colony’ of Roanoke, the first English Colony in America. Thoroughly researched, Barden has a great talent for bringing this time period to life with compelling storytelling and a well written, detail driven storyline… Over 400 years later, national media is still obsessed with speculation as to what ever happened to the lost colony that seemed to vanish completely without a trace. Barden suggests a fictional possibility to this question blending historical knowledge with imagination in an epic and well-traveled 16th century adventure.”
Book Preview Review

“A wonderful read, full of intrigue, hardship, fear, love, wonder and adventure, a truly exceptional mix of so many emotions that make for an exceptional book… Wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL!”
Thea Wilson – Gizzimomo’s Book Shelf

“The Lost Duchess is a cracking read! Jenny Barden’s eye for historical detail is fantastic. From the Tudor court of Queen Elizabeth to the swell of the ocean and the life of settlers in Virginia in the New World, the author skilfully creates a sense of place and high drama… There is much to love about this book which is both an epic adventure and a tender love story. A pacy, authentic account of a remarkable period in history, populated by some extraordinary individuals.”
Hazel Gaynor – author of The Girl Who Came Home

“From the shocking and gripping opening chapter of this novel the reader is hooked… What follows is a wonderfully complex story of intrigue, mystery, hardship, and betrayal.”
Mirella Patzer – Historical Novel Review

“A wonderfully imagined story of adventure, conquest and rebellion, The Lost Duchess is a brilliantly evocative reimagining of one of Colonial America’s most enigmatic and enduring mysteries.”
Erin Davies – Flashlight Commentary

“Emme and Kit make for good companions on this exciting journey to the New World.”
Sarah Johnson – Reading the Past

“An epic adventure… I was there with the colony; I felt their fears as they struggled to make a success of their venture, and rooted for them as the natives begun to turn against them with increasing violence. The romance that blossoms from the pages was, for me, the heart of the book. I enjoyed the to and fro between Emme and Kit as they each dealt with their own baggage from the past, along with their newly found troubles in this new wild world they inhabit… The Lost Duchess is a truly fascinating read.”

“A deeply researched novel… the book rates with the best.”
Historical Novels Review

The Lost Duchess is an excellent read, informative and imaginative, beautifully written and brimming with characters whose destiny we care about. I not only enjoyed a thoroughly researched work of historical fiction and an engaging, well-written tale, but understood yet again that whilst power can be manipulative, human nature can rise above it even in the face of desperation and adversity. Highly recommended.”
Carol McGrath – The Review

“I was particularly drawn in by the detail and historical accuracy and found myself staying up later and later each evening to finish it… This is a first rate novel… different to any other Tudor history I have read.”
Julie Ryan – AllThingsBooks

“A well written and beautifully researched novel… The story zings along at a cracking pace, there is danger, excitement, romance and deep emotion… I have no hesitation in recommending this book to lovers of historical fiction.”
Jo Barton – Jaffareadstoo

“A tale of wondrous excitement, adventure and emotion…”
Sharon Cook – Builth Wells Reading Group

“Jenny Barden has taken a familiar historical period, the age of the first Queen Elizabeth, and imbued it with a sense of fun and adventure that is quite unusual – terrific characterisation, excellent dialogue, a brilliant read.”
Paul NormanBooks Monthly

Some recent reviews:

“A wonderful descriptive novel of Tudor England and the conditions encountered by the early settlers at Roanoke Island in the New World… A beautiful story.”
Sandlane’s Blog and Gold Coast Libraries

“A beautifully written and well-researched historical novel, one that features a memorable cast of characters, and an entertaining and informative narrative.”
Meilissa J – Confessions of an Avid Reader

“Barden has researched her subject extremely well, and has the ability to bring both people and places to life. The characters and intrigue of the Elizabethan court are well drawn, and even the secondary characters such as the inept but artistic leader of the expedition are well rounded and credible. …A rattling good yarn.”
Geoffrey Gudgion – author of Saxon’s Bane


“Captivating… I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves the thrill and adventure of colonization, those who enjoy the idea of forbidden romance, or simply someone who just loves to read.”
Kathryn Powell – A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

“Really, really good. I enjoyed every moment of the book! Even the bad events kept me hooked. The ending left me hoping there is a sequel… Out of five stars, I shall stamp this with five stars.”
Carole Rae – Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings and Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

“Masterful handling of the Roanoke Colony story”
Frishawn Rasheed – WTF Are You Reading?

“A fantastic, gripping read full of adventure. I didn’t want to put it down…”
Sarah Taylor – Bookbabblers

“There was plenty of everything in this novel – romance, intrigue, scandal, action, danger, and humor… as well as some beautifully researched and detailed storytelling… I would encourage anyone interested in a different kind of Tudor novel to pick this one up.”
Stephanie Tracy – The Tudor Enthusiast

“A great historical novel that I didn’t want to put down… offers readers a plausible outcome to a long sought after mystery… I would highly recommend The Lost Duchess to any historical fiction lovers of the Tudor Era who want a new twist or unique players and storyline… It will be a joy to re-read whenever I feel my craving for the mystery of Roanoke start to surface once more.”
Erin Al-Mehairi – Oh, For the Hook of a Book!

“Well-written and entrenched in its history… a good book. The Lost Duchess looks at history and asks us to forget our modernity. It looks at ageless issues and respects all…”
Charlie Place – The Wormhole

“Barden can write. Her meticulous historical research shines, as does her descriptive capability. Her depiction of life aboard a sixteenth-century ship and of a New World filled with beauty and wonder, yet full of peril and uncertainty, is masterful…”
Jenny Quinlan – Let Them Read Books

“I loved that this book dealt not only with Queen Elizabeth’s court as well as settling in the New World… This is a book that is part romance and part adventure and one that is difficult to put down.”
A Chick Who Reads

“Emme and Kit are great characters… The explanation for the colony’s disappearance is still a mystery today but Jenny Barden suggests one possible theory which I thought was very convincing… Roanoke and its mysteries is a fascinating, unusual setting. Jenny Barden’s previous novel, Mistress of the Sea, sounds wonderful too and is linked with this one through the character of Kit Doonan’s brother, Will. I’m looking forward to reading it.”
Helen at She Reads Novels

“An excellent work of historical fiction. I enjoyed reading it from beginning until end!… The author did a great job with descriptions and imagery… She also did an awesome job at keeping me on the edge of my seat during the battle between the Indians and the colony. I could hardly breathe as the planning for the battle and the actual battle were going on… I give The Lost Duchess a solid FIVE out of FIVE stars.”
Kimberly Maloney at Historical Fiction Obsession

“Since I was young, I’ve been fascinated by the mystery of the Roanoke colony and this is the only novel I can think of that really looks at what might have happened and comes up with a viable scenario. I wish we had many, many more books like this here in the United States that look at our early history in a vibrant and fast-paced story.”
Katherine Gypson – Historical Fiction Notebook

“Emme is a woman of courage and strength and a person to admire. I was truly caught up in her story and her plight. I couldn’t read fast enough to see what she would do next… This story also explores the lost colony of Roanoke… and I have to admit I was impressed with the author’s rendition of the story. I recommend you read this book to find out what it is… and you will be caught up in the adventure of Emme and Kit as much as I was. I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of this story and the beuatiful descriptions throughout. This story meant so much to me that I still have this book on my night stand. That says a lot right there…”
Stephanie Moore Hopkins – Layered Pages

The Lost Duchess is a fun read for historical fiction fans. It gives a clear impression of the dangers that the early settlers faced as well as a glimpse into the intrigues of Queen Elizabeth’s court.”
Gaby at Starting Fresh

“…A new and exciting twist in the ‘Tudor lit’ genre. I loved getting out of the traditional court setting and exploring the vast unknown in the New World. I especially loved the Roanoke Island theories in this novel… The author’s attention to the historic details was second to none! This was not just a novel with a new twist on history or just a great setting, it also had great central characters… The love story and setting work together hand in hand making this story more rich and complex than just a simple ‘romance’… Love, adventure, and history culminate and make this novel a truly refreshing read bringing new life and story into a genre that’s dominated with courtly tales in Elizabethan England… this is something new you will want to add to your TBR list!”
The Lit Bitch

“A novel of passion, intrigue, deception, loyalty, and bravery… The Lost Duchess is an engaging read; Barden’s prose is beautiful, her descriptions vivid, her characterization strong, her research thorough, and her dialog appropriate for the time period. This is a novel that any reader of historical fiction should have on their bookshelf.”
Marisa Deshaies – Luxury Reading

“I loved reading this well-plotted story from start to finish, and I particularly loved the time once the settlers had arrived in what was to be their new home, and the encounters and tribulations they faced there. Jenny Barden writes wonderfully in her reimagining of what might have happened to them, and to Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlement at Roanoke… She has combined a great cast of characters with plenty of action and tension to create an intelligent and informative read that I really enjoyed and also found absolutely fascinating… The Lost Duchess begins as a novel set in the Elizabethan court, but it quickly becomes so much more; it’s a marvellous historical novel of love, adventure and exploration, with excitement, danger and suspense; there is so much to enjoy in this novel, a compelling blend of fiction and fact. Emme declares: ‘I want to be part of the brave adventure.’  Reading The Lost Duchess was an escape, I set sail and immersed myself in a grand and momentous adventure, one I’d heartily recommend!”
Lindsay Healy – The Little Reader Library

“She takes you inside this unknown world with such a propensity for details and enriched voices of the past, that you feel as though you are stepping directly into Emme’s shoes, casting footfalls where she alights in Richmond Palace as much as the shores of the New World. I found myself eating the words and pages as readily as my eyes were able to absorb their murmurings, because I had found another new author of whose story was soaking into my heart and that swelled a sea of thankfulness inside my heart!”
Jori Loves a Story

“This is a great historical fiction pick with a unique setting!”
Meg – A Bookish Affair

“The first adult historical fiction novel I have enjoyed in a while… Barden’s fictional account of what happened at Roanoke was so believable that I found myself wanting it to be true.”
Amber – The Musings of ALMYBNENR

A few other reviews:

“Jenny’s attention to historical detail and her knack of writing a riveting and page-turning tale – essentially a love story – makes The Lost Duchess a must-have purchase.  It will enthral any lover of history and romantic literature.”
Amanda Thomas – Harpendia 

“A must read book for 2014” (on Amazon) “Loved The Lost Duchess, didn’t want it to end” (on Twitter) “It only took me two days to read this amazing novel, why? Because it has excitement, romance, treachery, history – handsome heroes, what more could a girl want?” (on Goodreads)
Angie Rhodes a Goodreads reader

“A fabulous read… brilliantly paced, with edge of the seat action keeping the story pressing ever onwards, and a tangible sense of threat and danger. But most important is the story of Emme and Kit, their determination, their spirit and their extraordinary journey.”
TJ Blinko – a Goodreads reader

“I have read and enjoyed lots of historical novels by various authors, and this book goes right to the top of my list.”
HS Green (on Amazon)

a brilliantly evocative reimagining of one of Colonial America’s most enigmatic and enduring mysteries.  – See more at:
a brilliantly evocative reimagining of one of Colonial America’s most enigmatic and enduring mysteries.  – See more at:
a brilliantly evocative reimagining of one of Colonial America’s most enigmatic and enduring mysteries.  – See more at:


brilliantly evocative reimagining of one of Colonial America’s most enigmatic and enduring mysteries.  – See more at:


Shortlisted in the ‘Best Historical Read‘ category for the 2012 Festival of Romance Reader Awards

Shortlisted for the 2013 Joan Hessayon Award under the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association

“Beautifully written and researched, this tale of desire, revenge, piracy, war and valour is so evocative we can taste salt on our skin and hear the swoop of sails overhead as we’re swept up into a high-stakes adventure unlike any we’ve read before.”
C.W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

“A fascinating look at a ‘lost’ adventure of English sea-faring– exotic, savage, and altogether engrossing.”
Diana Gabaldon, author of the bestselling Outlander series (Cross Stitch, UK)

“Fantastic, really fantastic. Very exciting, and moving, vivid characters, great ending.”
Richard Lee, founder and Chair – Historical Novel Society

“The splendid tale of Ellyn, who stows away with Sir Francis Drake to save her father’s life and follow the man she’s not yet willing to admit she loves. Thick with the voices, as well as the smells, sights, sounds and naval politics of a Tudor universe.”
Emma Darwin, author of A Secret AlchemyThis Itch of Writing

“A captivating and well researched tale of love, duty, and the consequences of actions, set against a vividly described New World.”
‘Editors’ Choice’ – Historical Novels Review

“Sizzling…fun, fascinating and vividly drawn…atmospheric, enchanting…Mistress of the Sea is a rip-roaring, escapist adventure story full of action, drama, good guys, bad guys, real history and thrilling romance.”
Pam Norfolk – Lancashire Evening Post

“…A unique, well-researched historical novel with fascinating characters and a great will they, won’t they? romance element.”
Louise Jones –

“Makes the reader want to keep on reading long into the night.”
Gareth WilsonFalcata Times

“A fabulous story, and a wonderfully different (but important) perspective on Elizabethan times– Whether you sign up for this journey in search of romance, high-stakes adventure, or just engaging entertainment, there’s something for most everyone here.”
Sarah Johnson – Reading the Past 

“Brings together all the best elements of historical writing and breathes new life into the craft of epic storytelling. Sharply-drawn, credible characters, perilous adventure, exotic locations and the skilful blending of fact with fiction, make Mistress of the Sea a real page turner.”
Elaine Saunders, founder – Post-ChickLit Book Group

“On the day Drake’s ship is set to sail, Ellyn makes a fateful decision that will change the course of her future – she disguises herself as a boy and stows away on Drake’s ship. What follows is the adventure of a lifetime…”
Melissa MorriseyConfessions of an Avid Reader 

“A real swash-buckler of a novel that will appeal to all readers. It’s a story that harks back to the very start of the Golden Age of Discovery – the author has weaved a marvellous work of fiction around a very well-known historical figure and his ‘antics’.”
Stuart MacAllister – Sir Read-A-Lot

“A swashbuckler of a romance and adventure– Jenny’s attention to detail is superb, her writing is skilled, and her sense of adventure is engrossing.”
Helen Hollick, author of the Pendragon’s Banner trilogy

“A rollicking good read– The opening scene of the book is one of the most gripping and unusual I’ve ever come across. As soon as you read that, you know you’re in a safe pair of hands. I won’t give anything away – you’ll have to read it yourself, but I promise you your heart will soon be in your mouth…”
Justin Neville, founder –  London Historical Fiction Book Group

“I simply couldn’t put it down– Adventure, suspense, action, poignant loss and conflicted love– Jenny Barden deserves highest praise for her historical fiction debut, intelligently and sensitively written. Readers will be eager for her next novel.”
Margaret Evans Porter, author of The Islanders seriesPeriodic Pearls

“The author has weaved together a story which abounds with nautical intrigue, and with meticulous care and research has produced a realistic historical adventure, complete with rollicking high seas, the lure of Spanish bounty and a frisson of romance. Nicely written and with an obvious fine eye for historical accuracy, this is a commendable debut novel and the launch of a new talent in historical fiction.”
Jo Barton – Jaffareadstoo

“Mistress of the Sea is a great book. Jenny Barden has done her research well to bring both the characters and their world to life. The story draws you in, even as it jumps from ship, to the Caribbean and back to 16th-century Plymouth. The characters are well-rounded and realistic – you never feel frustration that the leads are acting unrealistically… The descriptive writing is excellent, whether describing domestic life in a merchant’s household or Drake’s bloody raid on Nombre de Dios.”
Hannah Fielding, romance novelist and reviewer