Authors: Fiona Buckley
“Buckley writes a learned historical mystery. Ursula, too, is a smart lass, one whose degrees must include a B.A. (for bedchamber assignations) and an M.S.W. (for mighty spirited wench).”
“Buckley describes vividly the difficulties of people living and competing with each other in Elizabethan England.”
High Praise for Fiona Buckley's Ursula Blanchard Mysteries
THE FUGITIVE QUEEN
“This is top-notch romantic suspense with a twist: a historical setting.
The Fugitive Queen
is thoroughly engrossing from the first page to the last.”
New York Times
bestselling author of
“An artfully executed period pieceÂ .Â .Â .Â . Ursula must summon all her considerable wit and courage in order to foil an intricately plotted act of high treason.”
“Through the eyes of Ursula, a woman both compassionate and ruthless, Buckley effectively dramatizes the tangled personal and political obligations of the Elizabethan court. A welcome seventh outing.”
“An ingenious plot.”
“Mystery, history, and a feminist heroineâwhat more could a reader want?”
A PAWN FOR A QUEEN
“RousingÂ .Â .Â .Â . Tension-filled.”
“Fact and fiction blend smoothly in an intricate tale of murder and intrigue.”
“Jam-packed with action, suspense, and court intrigueÂ .Â .Â .Â . Cleverly plotted.”
QUEEN OF AMBITION
“Queen Elizabeth maintains a surprisingly vital presenceÂ .Â .Â . although it is Ursula who best appreciates the beautiesâand understands the dangersâof their splendid age.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Riveting social history in an exciting mystery setting.”
“EngrossingÂ .Â .Â .Â . Suspenseful.”
TO RUIN A QUEEN
“An absorbing page-turner.”
“Now is a nice time for Tudor fans to light a flambeau, reach for some sweetmeats, and curl up with
is a fantastic historical fiction novel filled with royal intrigueÂ .Â .Â .Â . Fiona BuckleyÂ .Â .Â . makes the Elizabethan era fun to read about.”
âMidwest Book Review
THE DOUBLET AFFAIR
“An intricate tale rich in period detail and vivid characters. Among writers of historical mysteries, Buckley stands out for the attention and skill she brings not only to suspenseful plotting but to the setting that supports it.”
“Buckley's grasp of period detail and politics, coupled with Ursula's wit and intelligence, make the story doubly satisfying.”
âThe Orlando Sentinel
“A delectable novel that is must reading.”
âMidwest Book Review
TO SHIELD THE QUEEN
“Combines assured storytelling and historical detail. A terrific tale most accessibly told.”
âThe Poisoned Pen
“Ursula is the esence of iron cloaked in velvetâa heroine to reckon with.”
“Buckley's tantalizing re-creation of Elizabethan life and manners is told with intelligence and gentle wit. A noteworthy debut.
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This book is dedicated to the memory of my husband, Dalip
It is true that during Mary Stuart's short stay at Carlisle when she first arrived in England, she was allowed out on at least one hawking expedition. As far as I know, however, there is no record that when she was at Bolton, Sir Francis Knollys ever permitted such a thing. The English government was far too afraid of Mary escaping to Franceâand coming back with an army.
However, if by any chance he did relax his restrictions, perhaps through anxiety about Mary's health, and something went wrong, he might well have kept quiet about it. I have let him do just that. This is fiction, after all.
It is also true that Mary Stuart suffered from unexplained bouts of ill health, often involving a mysterious pain in her side and likely to occur when she was emotionally upset. It is now believed that she may have suffered from an inherited disease called porphyria, which produces symptoms of this kind.
Letter from Mistress Ann Mason of Lockhill in Berkshire, to Mistress Ursula Stannard of Withysham in Sussex.
Dated February 1568
Madam, I pray that you will forgive me for the liberty I take in writing to you and in making the request that will follow hereafter.
We last met under unhappy circumstances but all that is in the past and I well know that you did not wish to harm my family; nor did you do so. You only unmasked villainy which we were harboring unawares.
Since then, my life has changed greatly, with the death of my dear husband, Master Leonard Mason. I am left with the care of Lockhill and of my children. My sons George and Philip are now men grown and some years ago were sent by their father to good households to finish their education, but my eldest daughter, Penelope, who is at present in her nineteenth year, has remained at home with me and it is time to consider her future.
I have no desire to remarry and indeed, need not, for a few days since, George returned to take his place as the master of Lockhill. He and I, alas, are not altogether in agreement concerning the kind of marriage his sister should make but by the terms of my husband's will, I am her guardian and the choice is mine.
I would like Penelope, if possible, to go to court, perhaps as a Maid of Honorâto mix with the best society and thus to have a chance of finding a good match, with a man of position and means. You know, of course, that our family holds by the old religion and I would want Penelope's husband to share our opinions. I would not, however, wish him to be anything but a loyal subject of our sovereign lady, Queen Elizabeth. Such men may be found at court, I believe. Her dowry will only be modest, but I will do my best for her.
And so, dear madam, I come to the point and make bold to ask if you, being a former Lady of the Presence Chamber to Queen Elizabeth, would take charge of Penelope for me and use such influence as you have to find her a place at court and a suitable husband? I would then regard you as her guardian and leave her future entirely in your hands, asking only that I be informed of any betrothal, that I may attend the nuptials and wish her happy.
I hear that since our last meeting, you have yourself been widowed and have remarried and are now Mistress Hugh Stannard. This came to me from my cousin Bess, who was a Maid of Honor once and although now married and away from the court, still keeps in touch with friends there and hears news. She is however not in a very influential position. You, I think, may well be better placed. Penelope is a good girl, not a great beauty but pleasing nevertheless in her manners and person. Will you help?
The messenger who brings you this also brings a young female merlin, which I pray you will accept as a sign of my goodwill. The bird is trained and I hope will provide good sport. Her name is Joy, for when we fly her at game, she so loves the air.
Your most humble servant and supplicant, Ann Mason.
Letter from Mistress Ursula Stannard, at Hawkswood, to Mistress Ann Mason, Lockhill. Late February 1568
Madam, it gave both my husband and myself pleasure to receive your letter, which finally reached us at his house in Hawkswood, Surrey, having first gone to my old home at Withysham. I have always regretted that because of the trouble in your household when I was there, and your husband's very natural indignation over my own part in it, we were not able to pursue our friendship.
I heartily thank you for the gift of Joy, the merlin. The bird has settled well and I have presented her to my daughter, Meg. It is time that Meg learned something of the sport of falconry.
Both my husband, Master Stannard, and I were grieved to learn of your husband's death. This is a great loss for you and for your family and we pray that you may be able to sustain it with courage and are not in any want.
I remember Penelope and well recall how much I liked her. We will gladly welcome her to our home. Her presence, even for a short while, may be of benefit to my own daughter. Meg is growing up. She will turn thirteen this summer. She would take pleasure in the company of a friend who could be as it were, an elder sister, until such time as I can arrange for Penelope to attend at court. I daresay that such an arrangement can be made and I will put my best efforts forward for her.
Meanwhile, as long as she is with us, whether here or when we are at Withysham (as we sometimes are), Penelope will share in the society of the
neighborhood. If she plays chess, my husband would enjoy having a new opponent for a while, and I and my gentlewoman companion Mistress Sybil Jester will provide her with every opportunity to practice music, needlework, and horsemanship, and to continue with whatever studies you recommend.
But let me assure you again, I will make every effort to secure a place at court for her and after that, a good marriage into a family that is not likely to fall foul of the law. The political and religious divisions within our land are a trouble to us all, alas.
By this messenger, we send you the gift of a puppy, ten weeks old. He is bred from a strain of good ratters, but with a gentle temperament, so that he will make a pet as well. With earnest good wishes to you and all your family, Ursula Stannard, formerly Ursula Blanchard.