About The Best of Men


“A riveting historical thriller [that] emphasizes betrayals, prophecies and blue-blooded lust, giving this tale a human dimension… Intriguing and fast-paced.”

Winnipeg Free Press


“A wonderfully attractive main character… The plot will ensnare you.”

 - Globe and Mail


“A decade in the making, The Best Men is an ambitious and scrupulously researched first novel... Laurence, the 17th-century smart aleck, is a character with enough charm to warrant a repeat performance…”

- Quill & Quire



Advance Praise for The Licence of War


"[A] sweeping historical thriller of intrigue, conspiracy, spies, and mayhem. Not far below the surface is the sizzling romance between Laurence and Isabella. We are in the hands of a master.”

—Roberta Rich, bestselling author of

   The Midwife of Venice and The Harem Midwife



“Brings to life the violence and passion of the English Civil War [and] also brings to centre stage those who usually occupy the periphery of royal dramas, including the mysterious Juana, a Spanish gypsy… . [A] thrilling and enjoyable ride through 17th-century European history.”

— Suzanne Desrochers, bestselling author of

      Bride of New France






"This is quite a tome at just under 600 pages, but it turns out to be a quick and brilliant read. Laurence Beaumont, impetuous and cynical renegade son of a nobleman, is recruited by the egregious Lord Digby as a royalist spy. Destined to marry a suitable wife to continue the family line,Beaumont is still in love with the clever and beautiful Isabella Savage with her secret link to Digby himself. Can Beaumont trust her? Can he trust anyone? Even his mother has a murky past which, if it comes to light, may destroy the family.

Set during the turbulent year of 1643 when England is plunged headlong into civil war, the shadow of betrayal hangs over everyone. Arch-villain Veech, with his personal vendetta against Beaumont, adds a strong vein of malevolence to the poisonous political disputes that set faction against faction, but he earns a sad though deserved comeuppance in the end. With a full canvas of many minor but essential and continually fascinating characters, Dr Seward stands out as the still point in this whirling brew. Able to scry into the future, he is a warning of greater forces at work than the merely personal.

Mixing historical figures with fictional protagonists may not tell us the truth about actual events after Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham, and the bloody set-piece battles between royalists and parliamentarians are given short shrift, as is that archetype of romantic cavaliers, Prince Rupert, but even so Letemendia vividly evokes the dirt and tumult of 17th-century London and Oxford. Best of all, she leaves Laurence Beaumont to fight another day. I can’t wait for the third instalment of this skilfully written series."

Editor's Choice, The Historical Novel Society


"A fair warning to those who may pick up Claire Letemendia’s The Licence of War (McClelland & Stewart, 602 pp; $24.95): It likely helps if you’ve read her 2010 debut The Best of Men, which introduced her gadabout protagonist Laurence Beaumont spying-about-town in 17th-century England (and having a hell of a lot of fun in the process, especially in ladies’ bedrooms). I did not take this advice, which left me feeling as if I’d been dropped into a melodrama in mid-climax, but that tension dissipated quickly once I realized how much fun I was having reading of Beaumont’s newest exploits..." Read full review

- National Post Books Blog



"Five years after the release of her first novel, The Best of Men, Claire Letemendia resumes the story of the dashing Laurence Beaumont's political and romantic intrigues.  It is 1643 and civil war is wracking England, dividing the country between the stalwart Royalists and upstart Parliamentarians. Battles erupt across the country as the two sides vie for control of land and resources. It's a time of plotting, treachery, and betrayal, when no one can be trusted.

A skilled spy in the service of King Charles's ruthless secretary of state, Lord Digby, Beaumont risks his life repeatedly amid the machinations of war...

Between dodging death and doing Digby's bidding, Beaumont manages to associate with a host of colourful characters, from the bawds and innkeepers he befriends in London to his beautiful and enigmatic lover, Isabella Savage...

Letemendia's crisp, polished writing and ability to tightly weave together multiple storylines while maintaining a steady pace carry the reader through occasionally dense passages of battle description. The author's fascination with the history of the English Civil War is evident, as is her affection for her hero."

- Quill & Quire



"Toronto author Claire Letemendia was still a youngster, growing up in the fabled city of Oxford, when she learned about the secret passage. It lay beneath some of the most hallowed grounds in England - and what child wouldn't be enraptured by such a revelation? She had no way of knowing at the time she was soaking up the kind of intriguing trivia that would later bring life and immediacy to her engrossing historical novels set in the turbulence of Stuart England..." Read full article

- Edmonton Journal


"If quantity alone was the measure of a good book then this second story centred on Civil War Royalist spy Laurence Beaumont would be well up the rankings in theTop Ten of historical fiction.  It is not, however, quantity but quality that counts which is why this book still deserves such a position...  The author drives her story through in the way a good rider will handle a horse... This is an amazing blend of history and fiction that will stand out in the genre for years to come."


About The Licence of War