TO SHIELD THE QUEEN by Fiona Buckley
This book is the enticing first in a historical mystery series set in Tudor England at Queen Elizabeth’s court. Widowed gentlewoman Ursula Blanchard accepts a sensitive position guarding Lord Robert Dudley’s wife, who fears her husband will murder her in order to marry his beloved Elizabeth and win the English throne. When the unhappy Amy is murdered despite Ursula’s vigilance, and a beloved servant is killed as well, Ursula is driven to hunt for the killers. The clues lead her to the highest levels of the Queen’s court. When Ursula’s own life is jeopardized, she must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice.
This story was an excellent read! Astonishingly well researched, yet the research is woven seamlessly into a brisk and twisty plot, while the stakes for Ursula continue to mount. The mystery involved several surprising twists and has a fully satisfying ending. I would read this author’s other books in a heartbeat, and have just picked up THE QUEEN’S RANSOM, which is #3 in the Ursula Blanchard series. I have a lot to learn from this author about tight pacing and the use of action and intrigue to make complex history accessible to the mainstream reader.
This book is a great choice for anyone intrigued by Tudor England and the controversial romance between Elizabeth and her dashing master-of-horse Dudley. It’s also fully satisfying as a mystery. No steamy sex in this read, yet there is plenty of sexual tension between Ursula and her aristocratic suitor–who may also be involved in the crime. The violence primarily takes place off the page, yet a sense of menace is effortlessly maintained throughout.