After years of service to her half-sister, Queen Elizabeth I, Ursula Blanchard Stannard agrees to help Penelope Mason find a place at court and a suitable Catholic husband. Though Elizabeth has persecuted Catholics, Ursula is confident she can help Pen find a spouse.

However, when Pen becomes embroiled in a scandalous relationship, Elizabeth uses her to send Ursula on a mission to Yorkshire. She is to check out the estate Pen has been given by Robert Dudley. a property very close to the castle where Mary, Queen of Scots is under house arrest.

Elizabeth wants Ursula to find out if Mary is guilty of murdering her husband, so Ursula must once again become a mistress of espionage, using wits and wiles to pull off the mission and save Pen.

Readers already enthralled with the series will be thrilled to see that marriage has not slowed Ursula down. New fans will be captivated by this strong, clever woman who manages to survive in a treacherous world and hold her own against the queen. Mystery, history and a feminist heroine—what more could a reader want? (Dec., 288 pp., $24.00)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin