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 Chateau 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 Aqueen Of Historical Crime This book was excellent Very complex plot, which eventually resolves and comes right I continue to like the main characters in this series and the way they are portrayed by the narrator In this book the fate of older women was a background theme the aging Lady of the manor Thomasine who was not yet ready to give up her sex life, and the peasant Gladys who had resorted to truth telling, curses and false spells to maintain a position in society when she became too old and ugly and smelly to be accepted by other means.
Great series and I am going back to start at the beginning.
Ursula, living with Matthew in France, is lured back to England to find her daughter, who is not missing at all.
It s good to see that we re back to things actually happening and not just being a consequence for someone in Ursula s confidence doing something ill advised However, it s not as good to see that she continues to find herself manipulated rather than being a proactive heroine This is the fourth book Ursula Blanchard is not Rincewind the wizard, she needs to either pack it in as a spy because she does have the bloody temerity to do it or she needs to decide on her own that this is the life and career that she wants and we can have done with this reluctant hero business She s so strong minded that it just doesn t work any.
Case in point, this adventure is credited as beginning when she threw a candlestick at her husband After the tragic loss of her first child with Matthew, Ursula festers in her anger and grief She sends Brockley and Dale to fetch Meg, hoping that having her daughter back will make everything right again Unfortunately, Brockley and Dale return Meg less, as she was kidnapped before they could spirit her away home Ursula races to England in search of Meg, but of course it s yet another nasty plot on the part of Queen Elizabeth to get Ursula to England to do some spy work.
Sir Philip Mortimer, suffering from delusions of grandeur, desires to regain his family s long ago lost lands and has hinted that he has means to force the queen to give them to him His mother, fearing that these means would lead only to punishment for treason, begs that Ursula find and remove them.
But in the course of her investigation, Ursula instead stumbles upon a young man s body and everything goes tits up.
I was genuinely surprised by some of the events, particularly the body The end wraps things up a tad slowly, but at least there aren t any dropped threads Everything is explained satisfactorily.
My favourite part of this book was Gladys, a seventy year old Welsh woman who keeps getting accused of being a witch She is endlessly useful, enjoys the rare benefits of being old and ugly, and stands up for herself as best she can She makes a speech about the realities of getting old that is very striking And not just for the time period.
The book is not without its problems, though There are some weird things that stuck in my mind, making me wince a bit as I read Mortimer, when he finds that his ward is making to ruin a brokered marriage by falling for the intended bride, goes on this long, rather out of place speech about how the boy came to be his ward, and Mortimer s relationship with the boy s father It was even worse when the things he said became incredibly relevant later.
Another was this one scene I ve heard Twilight s writing style called aggressively coy, but then there is this emphasis mine Try me, Said Owen Lewis, and made it sound like an invitation.
I asked my question As a way of abolishing flirtatiousness, it could hardly have been bettered It produced a frown so intense that his strong black eyebrows nearly met above his nose That is a most impertinent thing to ask I am not being frivolous My reason is far from frivolous, believe me Nevertheless, I cannot answer you, and I bid you good day, mistress, I I moved into his path as he was about to step past me Then I must answer the question for you, I said, and did so Most unfair that is, mistress, he said, searching my eyes If you knew, why did you ask me I know that in some books, especially mysteries, characters might do something like this The purpose is clearly to preserve the revelation that the question and its answer might give the reader But it just doesn t work here It just looks like the writing was missing in the original manuscript and someone threw that in to fill in the gaps.
Most apparent here, from the same scene That much seems to be quite widely known I also heard it said that I produced the most scandalous suggestion I could think of, and as I had hoped, Lewis was most appalled.
Other than that, I didn t really have any glaring problems They get into sufficient danger, not through being idiots, and get out of it in interesting ways Even in the end, when things are mostly dealt with, Ursula still has her turbulent family life.
I m looking forward to the next one than I had wanted to continue to this one.
Ursula is complicated and surely valued by Elizabeth.
This book started out slow and a bit boring but as I continued to read it got better As a work of historical fiction it was okay Some pretty underhanded things took place in this book, the worst being the Queen having a woman s child taken to get her to return home to England just to do a bit of spying for her Although this was not the first book in this series, I had no problem with the story or characters It holds up as a stand alone book and previous books need not be read I will however be reading some of the earlier books in this series now that I have had a taste I love history, detectives and murder mysteries so this was a good choice to read Ms Buckley has whet my appetite so I will venture further into her world The main character Ursula Blanchard, secret agent to Queen Elizabeth finds out her daughter has gone missing She returns to England, leaving her French husband behind, to search for her Meg only to find she is not really missing but has been used as a ploy to get Ursula back in England Elizabeth wants her to search out a plot to blackmail her and overthrow the crown Ursula takes the job to get her beloved daughter back but what she discovers just my be Elizabeth s undoing.