Ursula Blanchard is summoned back to Court, and is immediately thrust into the intrigues surrounding the question of Queen Elizabeth’s possible marriage to a French noble. So begins the latest novel by Fiona Buckley, A Deadly Betrothal.
The illegitimate daughter of King Henry VIII, and hence a half sister to the English Queen, Ursula has become a companion of sorts to her majesty. She is called upon for advice, support, and on many occasions to enter into dangerous adventures at the behest of Sir Francis Walsingham. But this time it seems, thankfully, that the intrigue is without peril, and that the biggest issue in dealing with the Queen is to allay her fears about marriage, and especially child birth.
Yet, while Court may be calmer for Ursula, issues with home and hearth are not. There are errant husbands, recalcitrant sons, backstabbing relatives, and heart-wrenching calamities. And all is not as it seems. Murder has been committed, yet no one in authority appears to care. When Ursula broaches this subject to her boss the spymaster, as well as the head of Elizabeth’s privy council, she is advised to forget about it. In fact ordered, to mind her own business. However, she cannot do that, for justice has always been her watchword, and protection of the average person in the British realm her purpose. Unfortunately, her tenacious manner leads her into more danger than she even realizes.
From the deceptively serene English country side, to the grandeur of the Tudor Court, to the lethal conspiracies which engulfed France, England and Spain during a contentious and religiously fraught period of European history, the reader is led on a chase that doesn’t end as expected. Villains are not whom they appear to be, servants serve with hidden loyalties, and a Queen’s happiness may actually be her country’s undoing.
Full of double crosses, Machiavellian calculations, and in the end the sacrifices of a flawed hero, you will not want to put this book down until you find answers to all the questions presented.
The book if available in the US on August 1. It is already available in the UK.