A Perilous Alliance: A Tudor Mystery featuring Ursula Blanchard. Fiona Buckley. Severn House Publishers. October 2015. 240 pp. ISBN#: 9781780290768.
Ursula Blanchard has been told that her third husband has died and she is quite content as an independent widow traveling between her two homes with her servants and friends in 1576. Elizabeth is Queen and actually Ursula is her half-sister, not in line for the throne but able to serve the Queen in many helpful ways. Now she’s very irritated as she has a bevy of Court visitors, who are telling her that the Queen and Lord Cecil agree that she must marry a French Count, Gilbert Renard, in order to unite the kingdom against Spain and other countries surrounding France. That will guarantee France’s protection should these other countries dare to individually or collectively attack England. Ursula is extremely reluctant to marry Count Renard or anyone else for that matter!
After visiting the Queen, Ursula surrenders and agrees to marry after a scene where Elizabeth talks to Ursula in the most persuasive, albeit rather condescendingly in part, manner and convinces her that this is an act of pivotal importance to the security of England. After the Count arrives, Ursula realizes the manner of man she is to wed after learning of the brutal treatment of his horse on a regular basis.
Then several days follow in which a bunch of servants on both sides are suspected of listening at closed doors, a violation of privacy Ursula considers deplorable. Shockingly, the Count disappears overnight with a friend of Ursula, and the chase is on after a traitorous message is found. The remainder of the story will reveal what is really behind the Count’s visit to England and Ursula proves her indefatigable determination to truly save England from harm.
A Perilous Alliance… is a superb Tudor mystery with well-placed conflict and some secondary problems that only add to the precisely placed tension. Ursula is a fair woman who cannot abide disobedience or treachery. That, rather than faithfulness to the Queen, is what propels her every difficult step of the way until she completes her mission. Highly recommended read for readers of historical mysteries, as well as lovers of thrillers and adventure fiction.