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by Fiona Buckley
Pocket Books, November 2003
359 pages
ISBN: 0743410319

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Twice-widowed Ursula Blanchard, once a waiting woman and spy for Queen Elizabeth I, wants only to retire to her home at Withysham with her young daughter Meg. She is determined to leave the perilous life as a spy behind her.

Her uncle and his family reveal to her that her cousin Edward has left for Scotland and the court of Mary, Queen of Scotland, with a list of those in England who would come to the aid of Mary if she were to try to wrest the English throne from Elizabeth. They plead with Ursula to intercept him and return him and the list home. If apprehended he could be arrested for treason. They feel Ursula is the only person who could bring him home.

Ursula sets out on her pursuit of Edward only to find him in Scotland in an inn with his throat cut, and the list missing. Her search for the murderer and the list takes her into the court of Mary, Queen of Scotland, where she finds the Queen is not at all as she has been portrayed and where she finds those she thought to be her friends may also be her enemies. She must remain loyal to her Queen.

This is the sixth installment of the Ursula Blanchard mysteries. The heroine has developed into an independent woman who is willing to fight for her desires. She has unwelcome suitors and a chance for future happiness which she must seize. There is also the revelation about her paternity. The cleverly-plotted story is tension-filled with much suspense and action. The author has recreated a period long past and has made it vivid in the mind of the reader. There is enough Anglo-Scottish politics and court intrigue to satisfy the most demanding reader.

Reviewed by Barbara Buhrer, December 2003

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