To Ruin A Queen

An Ursula Blanchard Mystery at Queen Elizabeth I's Court

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With historical mysteries and tales of Tudor England in high demand, acclaimed author Fiona Buckley returns with a poignant new novel featuring Ursula Blanchard, waiting woman and secret agent for Queen Elizabeth I.
Still loyal to her royal mistress but needing to be with her French husband, Matthew de la Roche, Ursula begins to build a new life for herself at Matthew's château. She loves Matthew, although she longs desperately for her little girl, Meg, left behind in England. But when Meg's passage is finally arranged, the child is missing. Where is she, and could her disappearance be part of a plot to tempt Ursula back to her homeland?
Frightened for her child, Ursula follows a trail that leads to the home of the ancient Mortimer family, the mysterious Vetch Castle, a grim, haunted keep on the Welsh border. There she finds castle owner Philip Mortimer, who boasts that he will force Queen Elizabeth to restore the fortunes of his once-great family. There, too, Ursula finds Philip's mother, the aging but still beautiful Lady Thomasine, who is frightened by her son's claims and pleads for Ursula's help in discovering what it is that he knows.
What deadly secrets does this castle hide? What ghostly faces look from the windows of the deserted southwest tower? What has Philip Mortimer discovered? The secrets of Vetch Castle could be dangerous, especially if they concern the Queen -- dangerous to the Mortimers and to Ursula and those she loves, as she soon learns to her peril.
Richly evocative of its rugged English and Welsh setting, precise in its historical detail, and filled with memorable characters, To Ruin a Queen will affirm Fiona Buckley's growing reputation as a queen of historical crime.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743213653 | 
  • February 2001
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Chapter 1: The Power of Life and Death

The journey that took me from the Château Blanchepierre, on the banks of the Loire, to Vetch Castle on the Welsh March began, I think, on April 4, 1564, when I snatched up a triple-branched silver candlestick and hurled it the length of the Blanchepierre dinner table at my husband, Matthew de la Roche.

I threw it in an outburst of fury and unhappiness, which had had its beginnings three and a half weeks before, in the fetid, overheated lying-in chamber in the west tower of the château, where our first child should have come into the world, had God or providence been kinder.

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