The Fugitive Queen
This is the seventh title featuring Ursula Blanchard, Queen Elizabeth’s spy. The queen needs a trusted person to deliver a sensitive message to her cousin, Queen Mary, who is now living under Elizabeth’s protection (or imprisonment). Ursula is also asked by Lord Cecil to discover the depth of Mary’s involvement in the murder of her husband, Lord Darnley. Despite misgivings, Ursula agrees – partially because she needs to find a husband for a troublesome ward.
As the women travel into the North they are beset by puzzling and dangerous incidents: Ursula’s daughter is kidnapped, and mysteriously loosed; a servant is murdered and his body disappears. Ursula is further distracted by the charismatic Scots queen who evades Ursula’s queries. When Mary escapes from Bolton Castle in an effort to reach France, Ursula uncovers the relationship between all these incidents.
While the mystery elements are well handled, the real charm of this book is its authentic depiction of life, manners and morals in 16th century England. The reader sees the personalities, homes, countryside, sports and clothing of the characters clearly. The difficulties of those who balance loyalty to a Protestant Queen and loyalty to their Roman Catholic faith are cleverly incorporated into the plot. While some readers will not agree with Ursula’s conclusions about Darnley’s murder, Buckley certainly makes a good case for her conclusion.
This book will delight readers of historical novels.