Henry Tudor demands the Scots Queen be brought south, by force if necessary, to marry his son. Young Englishman Matho Spirston accepts the challenge and heads north, only to fall foul of the king's niece, bold beauty Meg Douglas.
She has her own problems with ambitious Lord Lennox. Her trickery forces Matho to use his wits and all his courage to survive in the brutal world of 16th century Scottish politics.
Observing them all is Marie de Guise, the Dowager Queen with a loyalty to France, struggling to protect her daughter's birthright amongst headstrong lords who think any one of them could rule the country better than a mere woman.
A bright, sparkling story with both drama and humour set in sixteenth century Scotland when life was an uncertain thing and death never far away.
Jen Black brings new life to the Tudor period with this novel. Meg Douglas is an engaging, worthy heroine who isn't as intimidated by her domineering father and the formidable Henry VIII as some are - to her cost.
Having made some serious mistakes, and no longer in the prime of youth - by Tudor standards anyway - she seeks a way to regain her status through the only means possible to a woman in the 16th Century - a good marriage.
Matho Spirston is an adventurer, handsome brave and daring but with a moral and loyal streak which causes some problems. However, he accepts his task to obtain the infant Queen Mary and deliver her to the English king with enthusiasm and compassion.
When these two meet up, their ambitions clash, resulting in chemistry and fireworks.
This is a fabulous book and wonderfully researched, with descriptions of Stirling Castle that took me right there on the grey battlements overlooking a savage sea. The author also gives new dimension to Mary of Guise, the complicated Scottish politics of the day and the way women were regarded at the time.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and am delighted to add that Ms Black has more of Matho and Meg in store for her readers.
Anita Davison also writes as Anita Seymour, her 17th Century novel ‘Royalist Rebel’ was released by Pen and Sword Books, and she has two novels in The Woulfes of Loxsbeare series due for release in late 2014 from Books We Love. Her latest venture is an Edwardian cozy mystery being released next year by Robert Hale.