In order to quell widespread rumors about their supposed murderous intentions, Elizabeth I and Sir Robert Dudley dispatch one of her ladies-in-waiting, young widowed mother Ursula Blanchard, to help tend Lord Dudley's sickly wife, Amy. Despite Ursula's friendly attentions, Amy dies violently. Ursula's subsequent search for the murderer of a trusted retainer uncovers evidence of Catholic scheming and tests her love for a dashing Frenchman. Buckley's tantalizing re-creation of Elizabethan life and manners is told with intelligence and gentle wit. A noteworthy debut and first of a series.
#1 Ursula Blanchard Elizabethan historical mystery. Ursula, recently widowed and left nearly penniless, is given a place at Queen Elizabeth's court and ends up involved in political plots and intrigue when she is sent to attend to Lady Amy Dudley, wife of Sir Robert Dudley--widely known as a favorite of the Queen. Lady Amy is dying of breast cancer--essentially untreatable in that time--and Dudley wants someone there to witness the fact that he does not wish her ill nor is he plotting to kill her so he can be free to wed the Queen.
While Ursula is there, Amy Dudley does die in suspicious circumstances, having fallen down the stairs and broken her neck while the entire household was at the village fair--at Amy's insistence. Then Ursula's servant John Wilton is murdered, and she seeks to follow a lead given her by John with his last breath, and THAT leads her to a possible plot against the Queen herself.
This was a pretty good read, although I am not overly fond of the Elizabethan period having O.D.'d on it a few years back. I read one of the later books in this series a few years ago, and liked it enough to get this first one, intending to read through the series, but it ended up sitting on my shelf for over five years. I am not going to actively seek to continue the series for now, but at some point I probably will do so.
I really enjoyed this mystery about a member of Queen Elizabeth's ladies in waiting. The author perfectly creates a rich story with characters who are in-depth and sympathetic, even some of the villains. I will be eagerly reading the rest of this series!
I really enjoyed this book, and have since read the next in the series as well. I love how Fiona draws us into the characters..I don't think i've ever come across an author who does this before. Her books are hard to find so if you come across this series best to get them while you can. Enjoy!!! PS-Ursula is an awesome female lead character...how she handles herself when she meets Queen Elizabeth is wonderful.