The Doublet Affair
Ursula Blanchard is "audacious, intensely loyal, and beguiling," said Publishers Weekly of Fiona Buckley's historical sleuth in her mystery series debut. Now, the young, widowed lady-in-waiting is back, once again defending her mistress, Queen Elizabeth I -- this time from a plot to overthrow the Queen and usurp her throne, a task that will test Ursula's sharp wits and investigative skills to the limits.
Torn between her duties and her personal life, Ursula has asked permission from the Queen to leave the court for a time. But Queen Elizabeth will only grant that request if Ursula will first assist Sir William Cecil in his investigation of a troubling plot against Elizabeth -- one that could place her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne of England.
Ursula's role will test her sharp eyes and cunning wiles. Already, one of Cecil's most trusted spies is dead. As Ursula follows directions and joins the household of her old friends Ann and Leonard Mason -- now under suspicion of involvement in this Catholic plot -- Ursula knows her own life may depend on her abilities to discover the truth in a dangerous web of deceit.
Elizabethan sleuth Ursula Blanchard returns in a worthy follow-up to To Shield the Queen (1997). Ursula, lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I, is the only female spy employed by the queen's right-hand man, William Cecil. A widow with a small daughter, she has been forced into a clandestine marriage with Catholic aristocrat Matthew de la Roche, who has escaped the Protestant Elizabeth's clutches and returned to France. Ursula is requested by the queen and Cecil to retire temporarily from court and to stay--and spy--at the home of Leonard and Ann Mason, who are suspected of harboring sympathies for the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots. Working undercover as a governess, Ursula seeks to gather information on a conspiracy that may involve a London clockmaker and the Masons' tutor. She is helped significantly by her married servants, Fern Dale and Roger Brockley, whose homespun wholesomeness provides a nice foil to the intrigues of the bluebloods who drive the tale. Witty and courageous, Ursula finds her life threatened but forges on, unraveling the conspiracy and, ultimately, making a fateful decision regarding her future. Once again, Buckley pens an intricate tale rich in period detail and vivid characters. Among writers of historical mysteries, she stands out for the attention and skill she brings not only to suspenseful plotting but to the setting that supports it.