For a long time now, a look at the historical fiction shelves will reveal that one of the most popular eras in historical fiction is the Tudor period, particularly the life and times of Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I. This fascination is understandable - scandalous love lives, religious upheaval and dramatic events in world history all are factors in the fascination that readers have with these times.
Those factors are part of what makes the Ursula Blanchard series of novels by Fiona Buckley an entertaining read.
Full name Ursula Faldene Blanchard de la Roche Stannard, our introduction to Ursula is when she is a young widow who has recently arrived in the court of Elizabeth I. She needs to provide for her young daughter, Meg, as well as her servants. It isn't long before William Cecil has Ursula working for him in a variety of roles, placing her both in danger, but also in situations where she can show her resourcefulness and resolve.
There is definitely some similarity in tone and broad themes to Karen Harper's Elizabeth I mysteries series, but one of the key differences is that Ursula is not restricted to the court as Elizabeth I, as sleuth, needs to be for the most part. Being able to travel around means that Ursula is able to investigate events such as the death of Robert Dudley's wife (The Robsart Mystery) and various Catholic (The Doublet Affair) and aristocratic plots (To Ruin a Queen). Along the way, Ursula interacts with Catherine, Queen of France (The Queen's Ransom), Mary, Queen of Scots (A Pawn for a Queen and The Fugitive Queen) and also finds time to live her own life as well including dealing with deaths, marriages and raising a young girl to womanhood.
Like many other historical mysteries series, there are times when Ursula is too modern, and there are some things that happen that I didn't really like, but the positives outweigh those criticisms.
At this point in time, there doesn't appear to be any new Ursula Blanchard books due to be published, which is disappointing. Fiona Buckley is however the pen name for Valerie Anand who writes historical fiction/fantasy, and she has at least one long running series that I will try at some point.
I did find that this series started slowly, but the books did improve and the last few were very entertaining. I started reading this series before I started blogging so I don't have reviews for all of them, but I have provided the links where possible. The series in order is:
1. The Robsart Mystery (also published as To Shield the Queen)
2. The Doublet Affair
3. Queen's Ransom
4. To Ruin A Queen
5. Queen of Ambition
6. A Pawn for a Queen
7. The Fugitive Queen
8. The Siren Queen