Queen Elizabeth I’s half sister continues her career as a most reluctant spy.
In the past, Ursula Blanchard has undertaken some dangerous missions (Queen’s Bounty, 2012, etc.) at the behest of the queen and her spymaster Sir William Cecil. Now, even before the funeral meats for Ursula’s beloved husband, Hugh Stannard, are cold, Cecil urges her to take on another assignment. Ursula’s Catholic foster daughter has received a marriage proposal from a Dutch citizen who lives near Brussels, and her parents have begged Ursula to accompany her there. Since Ursula’s archenemy Anne Percy, the exiled Countess of Northumberland, lives in Bruges and the Inquisition operates there, she is very unwilling to go. But Cecil is eager for her to investigate a possible plot against the queen by Roberto Ridolfi, a wealthy banker whose wife, Donna, is Ursula’s friend. Because Ridolfi is hosting the wedding, it will be a perfect opportunity for Ursula to ferret out the truth. Despite her fears, she and her loyal servants Robert Brockley and his wife, Fran Dale, set forth. No sooner have they arrived at the Ridolfi house that they ascertain that a plot is indeed afoot—but can they get proof? At Ridolfi’s home, Ursula meets her first husband, Matthew de la Roche, whom she had thought dead. Although Matthew is a staunch Catholic, he still loves Ursula enough to rescue her after she’s kidnapped by Anne Percy. In order to get the proofs she needs, Ursula must venture into the heart of enemy territory, a trip that could lead to a premature and unpleasant death.
Buckley seasons another charming episode of historical intrigue with several surprises.