McGowan takes up the tale of love and espionage in the court of the first Queen Elizabeth where she left off in her debut, Maid of Secrets (2013).
The beautiful, ambitious, scheming Beatrice Knowles is a member of the same royal cadre of spies introduced in the last book. Desperate to rise above her station as the daughter of a dysfunctional and apparently penniless noble, Beatrice tries everything in her formidable arsenal of survival tools to better herself. Constantly engaged in a vicious power struggle with the indomitable monarch, Beatrice suffers many humiliations. Not least among these are the prevention of her carefully arranged marriage to the posh Lord Cavanaugh and a spontaneous royal visit to her family’s embarrassingly run-down estate. Having squashed her marriage plans, the queen orders Beatrice to use her feminine wiles to spy on the odious Alasdair MacLeod. The maid’s initial revulsion for the rugged Scottish nobleman turns to infatuation, and through many twists and turns of a plot almost as complex as the machinations of the political scene, she discovers that true love counts for more than wealth and status. McGowan’s formula combines fast-paced action untroubled by excess period detail, likable characters in the persons of Beatrice and her fellow maids, and a sentimental love affair
This quick-paced romance should thrill and engage readers with a penchant for history. (Historical fiction. 12-17)