A Deadly Betrothal

Written by Fiona Buckley
Review by Holly Faur

England, 1579. In the latest installment of the Ursula Blanchard mysteries, the surprise return of a dear friend’s wayward husband abruptly escalates when the family’s drama turns deadly. But the investigation stalls when Ursula is called to court by her half-sister, the Queen of England, who is faced with an unusual marriage proposal that could divide the country. As Ursula councils Queen Elizabeth in matters of the heart, another murder takes place and Ursula must find a way to solve them both, but the cost turns out to be quite high.

Ursula is a no-nonsense sort of woman equipped with a sharp eye and quick thinking. Not precisely an agent of investigation at this time, her cases are taken on more out of duty and curiosity than for formal employment. The novel is written a spare style, with little descriptive prose to the pages, and dialogue is kept to a tidy minimum. The cast of characters is rather large, and I did have some trouble keeping some of the lesser ones straight. The murders took some time to occur, but we get a nice picture of Ursula and the politics and history surrounding England during the time of Elizabeth I and her famous rival, Mary Queen of Scots. Overall, I wished for a bit more excitement, but this is a pleasant, satisfying mystery for lovers of this time period.