Avid Series Reader's Reviews > To Ruin A Queen

To Ruin A Queen by Fiona Buckley
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To Ruin a Queen by Fiona Buckley is the 4th book of the Ursula Blanchard mystery series set in 1300s England. Ursula was promised that after her last arduous errand for Queen Elizabeth I (A Queen's Ransom) she would be free to live her life with her husband Matthew in France. She certainly has tried to settle into his country estate and enjoy life. In a moment of grave danger and loss, Ursula realizes she cannot be happy until she is reunited with her daughter Meg. Ursula returns to England, where she is tricked once again: Meg is missing, Ursula must spy for Elizabeth again to retrieve her.

Ursula has a plausible cover, as a genuine kinswoman to the Mortimer family. Vetch Castle on the border of Wales is a grim, harsh place, a fortress. Meg is indeed there, but Ursula quickly learns it's far too coarse an environment for her daughter. Ursula agrees that Meg should go to a safer place, a country home of friends, until Ursula completes her mission (this is hard to believe, her longing to be with her daughter overruled by loyalty to the queen who tricked her twice).

Philip Mortimer brags that he will restore his family to great power. His mother Lady Thomasina fears her son will try to ruin the queen with false accusations (treason punishable by death). Ursula's task is to find out what documents Philip plans to use for blackmail. She plots with her faithful servants Brockley and Dale, breaks into Philip's study, where she finds a murder victim. Ursula, Brockley and Dale are accused of the murder. Thomasina knows Ursula was spying at Elizabeth's request, but she has inexplicably turned on Ursula. They're roughly carted off into the mountains of Wales, and abandoned in a hut to die.

But in her short time at Vetch Castle and the neighboring village, Ursula had shown kindness and her good nature. A young boy comes to the rescue; his grandmother Gladys the woman Ursula had saved from stoning in the village. Ursula, Dale and Brockley stealthily return to Vetch Castle, and unravel the puzzling clues to solve the case.

Ursula's troubles are not over yet. Heavy flooding due to a fierce storm prevents travel to the east. She must wait for safe passage before she can reach her friends who are sheltering Meg. A message comes from Matthew: plague is rampant in France; she should not return to his estate until the danger is over (plenty of foreshadowing for the next book in the series).

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Reading Progress

June 16, 2019 – Shelved
Started Reading
March 26, 2020 – Finished Reading

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