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The young, widowed lady-in-waiting is back, once again defending her mistress, Queen Elizabeth I -- this time from a plot to overthrow the Queen and usurp her throne, a task that will test Ursula's sharp wits and investigative skills to the limits. Torn between her duties and her personal life, Ursula has asked permission from the Queen to leave the court for a time. But Queen Elizabeth will only grant that request if Ursula will first assist Sir William Cecil in his investigation of a troubling plot against Elizabeth -- one that could place her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne of England. Ursula's role will test her sharp eyes and cunning wiles. Already, one of Cecil's most trusted spies is dead. As Ursula follows directions and joins the household of her old friends Ann and Leonard Mason -- now under suspicion of involvement in this Catholic plot -- Ursula knows her own life may depend on her abilities to discover the truth in a dangerous web of deceit.
It's 1568, and Mary, Queen of Scots, is Queen Elizabeth's captive. Forced to flee Scotland after her husband, Lord Darnley, dies mysteriously, Mary is now a "guest" at Bolton Castle in northern England, where she plots her escape and covertly pursues her claim to her cousin's crown. Rarely have the historical stakes been so high, and rarely has Mistress Ursula Blanchard been caught in such dangerous territory. Herself an illegitimate daughter of King Henry VIII and half sister to Elizabeth, Ursula has served in the past as a lady of the bedchamber and, more important, as a spy for the Queen. Now, Elizabeth once again sends Ursula on a perilous and secret mission. She must carry a confidential message from Elizabeth to Mary, who is a woman of legendary charm and charisma. Will Ursula, too, fall under Mary's spell? Can Ursula trust Mary's promises? Did Mary have her husband killed? Ursula travels north with her young daughter, Meg, and her ward, Penelope Mason. Penelope has disgraced herself at Elizabeth's court, making advances to a married man, and now Ursula must take her young charge to the girl's Yorkshire estate -- located conveniently close to Bolton Castle and Mary -- and help her find a husband. There's no shortage of candidates for the wealthy young woman, but will Penelope become a pawn in the royal chess game? In confronting Mary and her supporters, Ursula discovers that she's inherited more than just her father's royal blood. Surrounded by possible traitors, Ursula must make difficult and poignant choices to serve her Queen and to save herself and those she loves. Set in some of the most turbulent years of English history, The Fugitive Queen takes readers on an enchanting journey filled with authentic period color and riveting suspense. Ursula Blanchard's lively mind and courage make her a heroine to remember in a historical series that ranks with the best.
Now a young woman of means, Ursula Blanchard is called upon by her family to catch her cousin Edward, and stop him from committing treason against Elizabeth. This time, she heads toward the Scottish border without the direct knowledge of the queen in search of her cousin. Upon arriving in Edenburgh, she finds that he has been murdered, and she seeks justice. In the process, she will be spirited away, witness a dual, and learn more about court intrigues than she ever wished to know.
Ursula and her small daughter, Meg, are at their Sussex manor house, Withysham, when Ursula is summoned to court. The queen will soon set out on a Royal Progress to Cambridge, the university town known for its Protestant sympathies. Accompanied by a huge entourage and two hundred wagonloads of goods, Her Majesty will spend five nights at King's College, where she will be kept in comfort and entertained in style. Nothing must go wrong. But Sir William Cecil, the secretary of state, is worried. Some students plan to welcome the queen to Cambridge with a farcical playlet involving kidnapping and swords. Cecil would prohibit all violence and swords near the queen's person, but she insists on letting the students have their fun. Or is it the queen who is having fun playing with her courtiers' concerns? With the spirited, thirty-year-old queen, it's always hard to tell. Or, a more serious possibility, is the playlet being used?
Long live the Queen! A magnificent Queen Elizabeth I reigned in the movie Shakespeare in Love, but it is the younger queen of the film Elizabeth whom we meet in Fiona Buckley's acclaimed Ursula Blanchard mystery series. It's 1562 and Catholic Spain threatens the stability of Protestant England. In France, the Protestant Huguenots also face threats from the powerful Catholics. Fearing that such pro-Catholic movements might spread to England, Elizabeth hopes to mediate a peace between the two French factions. Enter Ursula Blanchard, twenty-seven-year-old Lady of the Presence Chamber, who has a special mandate from Sir William Cecil, Secretary of State, to spy on behalf of the queen. Nearly the same age as Elizabeth, Ursula has already proved herself worthy of the queen's gratitude in difficult and dangerous situations. The queen wants Ursula to go to France, where civil war may break out at any moment, to hand-carry a letter from Elizabeth to France's queen mother and regent, Catherine de Médicis. To keep her mission secret, Ursula will ostensibly accompany her former father-in-law, Luke Blanchard, a man she neither likes nor trusts, when he travels to France to fetch his young ward, Helene, to the safety of England. Ursula has the queen's protection and she has with her her faithful servants Brockley and Dale. But she soon realizes that sinister forces threaten her. Is someone trying to prevent her from delivering the letter? Whom can she trust? Luke Blanchard? Helene? Her servants? Anthony Jenkinson, the blithe merchant adventurer whose path crosses hers and who has enemies of his own? Can she be sure even of the queen? What will happen to Meg, her little daughter left behind in England, if she fails to return? Perhaps the most poignant of all, Ursula's second husband, Matthew, a Frenchman and an enemy of Elizabeth, is somewhere in France, but can she see him without bringing disaster on both of them? There is powerful chemistry between them but what is their destiny? Ursula soon learns that she faces an enemy who will stop at nothing -- not murder, not torture, not charges of heresy that may lead to burning at the stake -- to destroy her. To prevail, she must undertake a desperate new mission of her own, with an innocent life at risk. Murder, treason, treasure, passion -- they all combine to make a compelling historical mystery from an author whose vast knowledge of the period adds depth and color to this riveting new series.
The year is 1569. Ursula Blanchard, illegitimate half sister to Queen Elizabeth I and sometime spy on the Queen's behalf, is happily married to wealthy Hugh Stannard and living quietly in the country. Ursula's thoughts are on domestic matters as she watches her daughter, Meg, grow up. Meg will soon be fourteen, so perhaps it is time to think of a betrothal.When an invitation to visit arrives from the powerful Duke of Norfolk, Ursula and Hugh welcome the chance for Meg to meet an apparently worthy young man of the Duke's household, Edmund Dean. Is he a possible husband for Meg?It's love at first sight, at least on Meg's part. Young Dean seems to admire Meg as well, and he's even more impressed with her promised dowry. Ursula, though, has her doubts. Does she see something cruel in the man's eyes?Soon, more weighty matters demand Ursula's attention. Two men are dead under mysterious circumstances, and there may be a new plot to put Mary, Queen of Scots, on the English throne. A letter written in cipher may contain the information Ursula needs -- but can she decode the letter in time to save the half sister and Queen she loves? And what shattering personal discovery will the letter reveal?Surrounded by treachery, Ursula wonders whom she can trust. Is the great Duke of Norfolk himself part of the plot against Queen Elizabeth? And what about the young man who would marry Meg?With richly drawn characters and riveting historical accuracy, The Siren Queen sweeps us into a suspenseful and passionate re-creation of one of the most tumultuous and colorful eras of English history.
With historical mysteries and tales of Tudor England in high demand, acclaimed author Fiona Buckley returns with a poignant new novel featuring Ursula Blanchard, waiting woman and secret agent for Queen Elizabeth I. Still loyal to her royal mistress but needing to be with her French husband, Matthew de la Roche, Ursula begins to build a new life for herself at Matthew's château. She loves Matthew, although she longs desperately for her little girl, Meg, left behind in England. But when Meg's passage is finally arranged, the child is missing. Where is she, and could her disappearance be part of a plot to tempt Ursula back to her homeland? Frightened for her child, Ursula follows a trail that leads to the home of the ancient Mortimer family, the mysterious Vetch Castle, a grim, haunted keep on the Welsh border. There she finds castle owner Philip Mortimer, who boasts that he will force Queen Elizabeth to restore the fortunes of his once-great family. There, too, Ursula finds Philip's mother, the aging but still beautiful Lady Thomasine, who is frightened by her son's claims and pleads for Ursula's help in discovering what it is that he knows. What deadly secrets does this castle hide? What ghostly faces look from the windows of the deserted southwest tower? What has Philip Mortimer discovered? The secrets of Vetch Castle could be dangerous, especially if they concern the Queen -- dangerous to the Mortimers and to Ursula and those she loves, as she soon learns to her peril. Richly evocative of its rugged English and Welsh setting, precise in its historical detail, and filled with memorable characters, To Ruin a Queen will affirm Fiona Buckley's growing reputation as a queen of historical crime.
Ursula Blanchard, a widowed mother, is lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth I. She has been asked to protect Amy, Lord Robert Dudley's wife, but cannot. She becomes involved in solving the murder of a trusted retainer and falls in love with a Frenchman.
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