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To Shield the Queen

(Ursula Blanchard #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,750 ratings  ·  170 reviews

In this compelling debut of her historical mystery series, Fiona Buckley introduces Ursula Blanchard, a widowed young mother who has become lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I. Armed with a sharp eye, dangerous curiosity, and uncanny intelligence, Ursula pledges...

To Shield the Queen

Rumor has linked Queen Elizabeth I to her master of horse, Robin Dudley. As gossip would

Paperback, 328 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 1997)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,750 ratings  ·  170 reviews

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Kate Quinn
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
The first installment of a highly enjoyable series about an Elizabethan sleuth. Ursula Blanchard makes for an unusual heroine: a resourceful young widow who serves Queen Elizabeth as a lady in waiting, and is offered the chance to supplement her meager income by spying for Elizabeth's intelligence master Sir William Cecil. Desperate to support her young daughter, Ursula takes on the task of watching over Amy Robsart, the sickly and paranoid wife of the Queen's favorite Robert Dudley. Amy ends up ...more
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This book didn't "wow" me as I expected it too. Maybe it is a case of having high expectations. However, it was well researched and for the most part, well written. There were certain areas where I felt the story dragged on too much or details were added that were unnecessary. For example, I can't tell you how many times "farthingale" and "ruffles" were mentioned. In case the reader forgot what era it was, Ursula was always on hand to mention someone's dress to remind you.

I don't read much myst
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Tudors knew how to bogart and utilize the mainstream media. This is yet another paean to Elizabeth I. What would history have done - and all of us whack-a-doodles - without the monarchy? And did anything happen in 16th C England besides sniveling poor-loser Catholics plotting against the Virgin Queen, only to be found out and patiently given justice in the realm so very different than the prior less kindly ones under Henry VIII and Mary Tudor?
Perhaps current Prince Andrew, the Dull and Menda
Sep 26, 2008 rated it liked it
This was a story that has been told many times, about the romance between Robert Dudley and Queen Elizabeth I. However it is taken from a completely different point of view and focuses mainly on what happened to Dudley's wife who was found at the bottom of a flight of stairs with her neck broken.

I liked the book, not rocket science or extremely emotionally compelling but it was interesting and got pretty good at the end. I will definitely read the next in the series.
Avid Series Reader
To Shield the Queen by Fiona Buckley is the first book of the Ursula Blanchard mystery series set in Elizabethan England. Ursula Blanchard is newly widowed, with an infant daughter. Her marriage was for love, against the wishes of her family and her husband's, so she cannot turn to family for help. She must earn money to feed herself and her daughter, so she accepts a position serving the Queen. Serving at court means she must leave her daughter to be cared for by another woman in her village; a ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been searching for another well-written mystery series, and this one is excellent. Set during Elizabethan England, To Shield the Queen introduces the reader to Ursula Blanchard, a widowed young Lady of the Presence Chamber at Queen Elizabeth I's court, who gets involved in murder and political intrigue surrounding the mysterious death of Amy Robsart, also known as Lady Dudley - which is based on an historical case. Am looking forward to reading the next installment.
May 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
To Shield The Queen is an Elizabethan mystery but unlike my previous read (The Poyson Garden) the detective here is one of the queen's lady's in waiting. Ursula Blanchard is a young widow, when she finds herself almost destitute after the death of her husband a post is found for her as lady in waiting to the queen thanks to the fact that her own mother was fulfilled that same role for queen Anne Boleyn.

When Ursula arrives in court it is common knowledge that the Queen and Robert Dudley, her Mast
TO SHIELD THE QUEEN (Historical Mystery-England-1500s) – G+
Buckley, Fiona – 1st of series
Pocket Books, 1978- Paperback
Mistress Ursula Blanchard, a new member to the court of Elizabeth I, has been asked to stay with Robin Dudley's ailing wife Amy. There are rumors that Dudley is trying to kill Amy to clear his way for a possible marriage to Elizabeth I. But when Amy dies of a broken neck and Ursula sends a letter to court with her man John, who is brutally killed, Ursula is determined to find the
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I first heard about this book a couple of years ago over on ravelry, but am just now getting around to listening to it. I did enjoy the story, though it was a bit too predictable. It was well written, believable, and the history was well researched. However, I do have to mention the fact that, for me, the narrator, Nadia May, was the best part of the book. It was a fun read, and I do recommend it for those who like historical mysteries. <>< ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
It's so satisfying when you read a book, love it, and then realise it's the start of a series and you've got so many more books to read and enjoy.

To Shield the Queen (or The Robsart Mystery as my version was actually called; To Shield the Queen is a better title) follows a young widow named Ursula who takes up a place as a lady in waiting at the court of Elizabeth I. Needing extra money to provide for her daughter, she accepts an assignment from Robert Dudley - scandalously, the queen's paramour
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tudor-fiction
The debut of Ursula Blanchard was excellent. Generally I find that when I book is the first in a series, the author spends a large majority of the book giving the main protagonist a background story. I like in this instance how the author gives us what we need to know at the beginning and then successfully manages to tie the character's background into the current events of the story. The author doesn't have to take time away from the events of the story to explain character motives. In this cas ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of Historical Mysteries
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
I'm a fan of a well-done historical mystery, and this is the first of a series that leaves me wanting to read more. I like the mix not just of historical and fictional characters, but of historical and fictional mysteries set in the Elizabethian Age, and the Tudor period is certainly one I find fascinating and is evoked nicely here. The historical mystery in this case revolves around the death of Robin Dudley's first wife, Amy Robsart which Walter Scott made the subject of his novel Kenilworth. ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery lovers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ah, a Tudor novel that doesn't annoy me! I've been looking for one for ages. In this, the main character is compelling, and feels relatable to me as a modern reader without feeling like she doesn't fit within her time period. Similarly, the settings and details are clearly well-researched, but very smoothly integrated. At no point does it feel as though the author has included a detail just because she learned it during her research and liked it; instead, little points about food, clothing, medi ...more
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy H
The second of the Ursula Blanchard mysteries set in the court of Elizabeth I, this story takes place when Elizabeth seems to be enamored of her man Dudley, and forces in England wish him gone so as not to compromise the Queen, believing that she would be willing to marry him were he not already married. There are many complicated plots, both Protestant and Catholic, against him, against the Queen, and against Dudley's wife Amy, who is already dying of cancer, and only one person can figure out t ...more
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I finished To Shield the Queen by Fiona Buckley a while ago, the first book in the Ursula Blanchard mystery series. Set in Queen Elizabeth I's court, this mystery is one that surprised me with its drama and fast-paced action.
I'd been procrastinating this novel because I didn't like its cover art, and I still don't - but I am sorry I waited so long to read it! Ursula Stumbles upon plots upon plots as she seeks to find the reason that her manservant was killed while on a mission to deliver a lette
Charlotte R
May 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
It definitely wasn't as good as I thought it would be. I didn't really like the main character Ursula. To me, she was quick to forget her dead husband and fall in love with that Matthew de La Roche man. And when I say she fell in love quickly with Matthew, I mean quickly. I mean she was having sexual fantasies about him after just knowing him a week or so. And later in the novel, she was missing him instead of her dead husband, Gerald. I think she could have waited a while before moving on from ...more
Rachel N.
It's 1560 and Ursula Blanchard has recently been widowed when her husband died of smallpox. She becomes one of Queen Elizabeth's ladies and joins the court while leaving her daughter behind in Sussex. In order to earn a bit more money Ursula accepts Robert Dudley's offer to go stay with his estranged wife Amy and try to assure her that Dudley is not trying to kill her so he can marry Queen Elizabeth. The book starts very slowly. It begins to pick up in the second half when Ursula investigates tw ...more
A well-written and interesting mystery novel set in the early years of Elizabeth I as young widow Ursula Blanchard attempts to protect Robert Dudley's wife Amy Robsart. Ursula is a brave and enterprising character attempting to cope after the death of her husband and discovering an aptitude for espionage. This is really 3.5 stars and I would have given it 4 but Ursula's relationship with Matthew seemed unconvincing and tagged on to add a love interest where one wasn't really necessary. I did enj ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
As far as historical fiction is the Tudor era goes, this is a good solid book. It’s rather fun having a protagonist that isn’t Elizabeth or Mary or somebody else who has been written about to death, and even if you know exactly what happens in history, it can be enjoyable to live it out with a fictional character. I didn’t realize this was part of a series until I finished it and looked it up online. Whether or not the Ursula Blanchard character can be stretched out to cover 8-9 Tudor related no ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a fun books with some mystery to it. It has “historical sexism” but it framed it in a way that made it obvious that it was the accepted thing at the time BUT it wasn’t an inherent “biological truth” by the characters acting individually and not having personalities defined by their genders. Much better than I expected (I’ve been burned by historical fiction). I’ll be reading the next one.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this novel was slow to capture my interest, I'm really glad I stuck with it past the first few chapters because the plot became truly convoluted and interesting, and the characters were drawn fairly well. Anyway, this novel was the first book of a cozy mystery series set in Queen Elizabeth I's court. I ended up enjoying it quite a bit, and I plan to read more of the series.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Nadia May. As a narrator, I like her; she has a very soothing, matronly voice. But it didn't quite fit this book, because Ursula is in her 20s. She sounded 50, and it jerked me out of the story every time Ursula's youth came up. But otherwise, this was a decent story. Ursula didn't completely wow me, but I like the period. So, I'll be continuing the series.
Jennifer James
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I greatly enjoyed this work of historical fiction. It seemed well researched, but was generally fun to read and I enjoyed the main character's inquisitive nature. There were some sections that were slightly boring, but they were few and far between. If you enjoy stories of Queen Elizabeth, or historical fiction in general, I would highly recommend this book.
Jennifer Hood
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Freaked me out a bit at first because the narrator seems to be the same person who reads the Agatha Raisin books and the voice didn't seem "correct". But I liked the flow of this book and it kept me entertained.
Excellent mystery set in the 16th C. Strong female protagonist. Good plot. Will read more in this series.
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a great series for those who are interested in Tudor history! I know I have read one or two more than I've yet noted here, so I am going to try to read them all through again...
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Listened to the audio book. I appreciated the readers pleasant, easy tone. This story was a nice change of pace from my usual action packed thrillers.
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: new-mysteries
This was an interesting sojourn in a time period I don't often visit. Ms Buckley makes the Elizabethan era live and Ursula is a likeable heroine.
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Play Book Tag: (for JoLene) To Shield the Queen bu Fiona Buckley 3 stars 1 10 Nov 03, 2018 01:17PM  

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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)
  • The Doublet Affair (Ursula Blanchard, #2)
  • Queen's Ransom (Ursula Blanchard, #3)
  • To Ruin A Queen (Ursula Blanchard, #4)
  • Queen of Ambition (Ursula Blanchard, #5)
  • 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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