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Queen of Ambition

(Ursula Blanchard #5)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  542 ratings  ·  36 reviews

Fiona Buckley, acclaimed for the historical accuracy and riveting storytelling of her Ursula Blanchard mysteries at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, returns with a glorious new novel set in the summer of 1564.

Ursula and her small daughter, Meg, are at their Sussex manor house, Withysham, when Ursula is summoned to court. The queen will soon set out on a Royal Progress to

Hardcover, 286 pages
Published December 4th 2001 by Scribner Book Company
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  542 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Margaret Carpenter
I must assume that no one ever took it into their head to explain to Ms. Buckley that the rule of "showing not telling" is an imperative one. This novel could have been riveting if handled well. More of a disappointing realization of potential than a fluff read.
There's something about this series I find very satisfying. The characters seem to react like real people and that makes all the difference in the world.
Sarah Hearn
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've only read a couple of these Ursula Blanchard novels but they are always thorough and historically accurate. A good plot: the Queen will visit Cambridge as part of her summer Progress. While the city has always been staunchly Protestant, Secretary Cecil is sure a pair of brothers are plotting something ut he and his code-breakers can't work out what. He sends Ursula ahead to try and figure it out.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, mystery
Ursula, the heroine of this series set in the Elizabethan era, is a feisty yet believable character who frequently puts herself in danger in order to protect her queen. This is the second of the series I have read, and both were fine books, with enough period detail to feel authentic without being pedantic.
Ursula is sent to work in a pie shop (undercover) to check out the atmosphere in the college town of Cambridge before the queen arrives for a five day visit. She is to be greeted by a playlet, put on by the students, but there are swords and kidnapping involved in the plot, which makes everyone slightly on edge.
Enjoyed this novel which has Ursula working in a pie shop! Matthew dies at the end, resolving that plot question. Good reading for lying on the couch in anxiety and exhaustion!
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Overall it was interesting. However it was hard to get into...
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Historical mystery & intrigue! Nice pacing, clever enough that I couldn't guess the endng! ...more
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
These keep getting better. I didn't want it to end.
Jun 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: tudor-fiction
3 and a half stars for the fifth novels starring Ursula Blanchard and crew. While this novel wasn't anything spectacular, I felt like it finally sets up the coming books for something good. The whole Elizabeth I vs. Mary Queen of Scots drama is building (we all know how that ends) and Ursula is finally (view spoiler) ...more
(3.5 stars) The fifth book in the Ursula Blanchard series follows closely after the 4th in time, with Ursula being sent to Cambridge, ahead of the queen's arrival there, to scope out the surroundings and make sure the preparations are in order. Because of a tip surrounding a mini-play that will be presented to the queen, Ursula goes deep undercover, working as a servant in a pie shop in order to find out more some characters suspected to be involved in a plot against England. The pie shop is own ...more
Richard Stueber
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Routine book in this series starting in summer 1564. Our heroine Ursula, born Faldene, married first to the late Gerald Blanchard and now to Matthew de la Roche. Matthew is a wanted man and is back in France. Ursula gets a new spying job from Queen Elizabeth and Secretary of State William Cecil. Elizabeth is going on a Royal Progress to Cambridge, where a plot against her is suspected.
Ursula takes a menial job in a pie shop run by Roland Jester who is plotting with his half brother Giles Woodfor
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is part of the series featuring Ursula Blanchard as a member of Queen Elizabeth's court who is often asked to work undercover when the Queen's security is in danger. The plot revolves around religious and political scheming as well as giving the reader a view of abusive husbands and what recourse was left to battered wives at this time.
The setting is in Cambridge which is to be a stop on the Queen's summer progress. I enjoyed reading about the area and how the townspeople prepared for
Pretty good, but not as captivating as some of the other titles in the "Ursula Blanchard" historical mystery series.
However, I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys Elizabethean-era stories. Ursula is an interesting character, as are her two faithful "servants," (more pals than employees, really), but this adventure gives them less exposure than some others.
Still, it is a fun romp through Tudor times - and unlike some historical series, it is easy enough to follow even if British history isn'
Kathie H
Aug 11, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: "Adults"
I love this line: "I was of the temperament that could not win satisfaction from a well-planned Christmas dinner or shelves full of preserves, and if that was wrong, well, it was the way I had been made and those who disliked it had better address their complaints to the Almighty who made me." Spoken by the heroine, Ursula, circa 1556.
Nov 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I enjoy Elizabethan Historical Fiction, which is what brought me to this series. I had never been interested in any kind of mysteries up until reading these books. They were a complete surprise to me. The plots in all of the Ursula Blanchard Mysteries are rich and fun, the characters are interesting and complex. I really loved this entire series of books.
Okay, there is a major plot shift at the end of the novel, but I don’t want to come right out and say it in case I spoil it for anyone. Let’s just say someone very dear to Ursula ends up dead. This was a rather low-key plot, focusing more on household dramas than High Politics, but it was enjoyable and very engaging.
Charlotte Osborn-bensaada
Jun 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is a great series set in Queen Elizabeth's court. Buckley takes several real historical mysteries and asks what if... Worth reading for a strong interesting heroine that while sometimes needing rescue is rather good at figuring out her own options given the limited options available to women of the time.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
A medieval castle in Wales, young lovers imprisoned in the tower, a spring/winter romance and a foul murder have Ursula Blanchard using all of her skills in another Elizabethan "whodunit" from Fiona Buckley. Add an old woman accused of witchcraft and being locked in a shepherd's hut high in the mountains and you have one of Buckley's best in the series!
Valerie K
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book 5 in the Ursula Blanchard series. Full of surprises. Ursula is such an interesting character, her inner conflicts and how the different parts of her life pull her in different directions really adds to the stories. In this one, the contrasts were especially stark since she was under cover. I'll stop there so I don't give anything away.
Dec 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Still enjoying the Ursula Blanchard series. In the 5th book Ursula finds herself in Cambridge preparing for Queen Elizabeth's visit, and working undercover in a pie shop as a cook maid. Cecil suspects a plot in underfoot, Brockley and Dale are there to aid her sleuthing. Good plot twist at the end. Also delves into domestic abuse in the Tudor era, and what rights, or lack or rights women have.
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Though I tend to want to read books "in order" enough info is given so that the current book can be enjoyed by itself. One is immediately immersed in the storyline and is learning about the time period while enjoying the story itself.
Dec 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great medieval mystery series.
Nov 21, 2008 rated it liked it
it was an average book. not much more to say.
Monica Willyard Moen
Apr 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
I enjoy the blend of mystery, history, and romance in this series. I liked the plot in this book.
May 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Read this one first...had to go back to the first to get the entire setting. Will likely finish the series this summer!
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
This series just gets better with each book.
Mystery and History all at once..sweet.
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Secret rooms & passages, students, and a Plot. The device to get Ursula working in a pie shop is a bit thin but still enjoyable. ...more
Garden Girl
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
I liked the historical aspects of the story but the female lead was too modern to be an accurate representation of an Elizabethan woman.
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
This one had a great mystery. another mystery is Ursula herself. I think she is a half sister to Elizabeth II but does not know it.
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Valerie Anand is a British author of historical fiction. Under the pen name Fiona Buckley she writes the series of historical mysteries, set in the reign of Elizabeth I of England, featuring "Ursula Blanchard" (whose full name is Ursula Faldene Blanchard de la Roche Stannard). Under her own name she writes historical fiction based on the royalty of England and the Bridges over Time series which fo ...more

Other books in the series

Ursula Blanchard (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • To Shield the Queen (Ursula Blanchard, #1)
  • The Doublet Affair (Ursula Blanchard, #2)
  • Queen's Ransom (Ursula Blanchard, #3)
  • To Ruin A Queen (Ursula Blanchard, #4)
  • A Pawn for a Queen (Ursula Blanchard, #6)
  • The Fugitive Queen (Ursula Blanchard, #7)
  • The Siren Queen (Ursula Blanchard, #8)
  • Queen Without a Crown (Ursula Blanchard, #9)
  • Queen's Bounty (Ursula Blanchard, #10)
  • A Rescue For A Queen (Ursula Blanchard, #11)

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