THE BLACK DUCHESS by Alanna Knight


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Knight plays out this light Elizabethan adventure/romance with an old salt's ease; the narration tacks smoothly into action, and the neutral period-accented speech contains not one ""mayhap."" The indestructible heroes are look-alike cousins Amyas Lennox and Felipe de Montreuse, both of mixed English and Spanish parentage, whose boyhood friendship was sealed when both doted on Mary Queen of Scots in Edinburgh. In adulthood Felipe, raised as a Spaniard, is the godson of King Philip, and Amyas, a merchant captain, is an Englishman happily married with two children. And when the Armada is about to set sail in 1588, Felipe is sent along in the svelte galleon Black Duchess; he's bringing money to the Catholic lords of Scotland to further the invasion of England. Also aboard: feisty stowaway Maeve O'Neill, Irish runaway from an unwelcome marriage. Love will of course ensue after the predictable spits and struggles, but during the sea fight with the English, Felipe briefly catches sight of Amyas--who is fighting under the command of Sir Francis Drake (his wife's uncle). Amyas is seemingly killed; Felipe is marooned on the Orkney Islands (ruled by bloodthirsty tyrant Lord Robert Stewart) and mourns Maeve (also seemingly dead), while secretly bedding the lovely prisoner Sibella. Everyone escapes, including Amyas and Maeve from the jaws of death, and the four will pair off neatly through some offhand oscillations in the plot. Sturdy and serviceable, for casual historical buffs of both sexes.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1980
Publisher: Doubleday