The latest installment of the Ursula Blanchard mystery series, The Reluctant Assassin, finds our heroine in retirement, well sort of. After being promised by her half-sister, Queen Elizabeth I, that she could leave the employ of Cecil and Walsingham, Ursula returns to her country estate to oversee her accounts and raise her 9 year old son Harry, but all is not what it seems. For Ursula there are new intrigues, and mundane realities withwhich to contend, including the sudden appearance of a long-lost son, traveling troubadours, and the need to hire a new groom for the horses, and a competent tutor for her son. Much to the boy’s chagrin, of course.
Dealing with these every day tasks gives Ursula a sense of calm and complacency. But then Harry suddenly disappears while on a ride with his new tutor. Despite days of searching he is nowhere to be found. It is believed that he has been taken for some nefarious purpose. But what that is no one can discern, as there has been no ransom. Then Ursula herself is kidnapped and the connivances and machinations, which characterized the Elizabethan era comes to the forefront. For Harry’s disappearance and Ursula’s kidnapping all have to do with the tug of war between Elizabeth and the supporters of Mary Queen of Scots, all intertwined with a possible French marriage, the animosity of Spain’s King Phillip, and the attempts by the Catholic Church to undermine the independence of protestant England.
Bringing into play international politics, religious animosity, and court intrigues the author, Fiona Buckley, weaves an exciting tale of daring do, honor codes, swashbuckling nerve, and backchannel spycraft. All the while our heroine, Ursula, seeks only to save her son from a fate worse than death. For in exchange for Harry’s freedom she has been ordered to become a reluctant assassin, and possibly commit treason. Meanwhile, enlisting the help of those she had thought she had left behind in Elizabeth’s court, Ursula seeks the help of the Queen in ordering Walsingham to come up with a plan to not only thwart Harry’s kidnappers, but to save England as well.
This book is available Jun 1, 2018