The Siren Queen is the eighth book in the Ursula Blanchard series of mysteries and I have to say that these books just get better and better. I have been reading this series for a while and now I am all caught up with the books that have been released at this time.
Ursula's daughter from her first marriage is about to turn 14 and, as they did at that time, thoughts turn to betrothals and marriage. It has been suggested that there is a young man who works for the Duke of Norfolk called Edmund Dean who would be a good match for young Meg, and so the whole Stannard family goes to London to meet Mr Dean. Ursula takes an instant dislike to Edmund but Meg is smitten, and he is very persistent in his devotion to her which concerns Ursula and her husband greatly.
However, whilst staying at the Duke of Norfolk's home, two young men are killed and Ursula becomes involved in the investigation, placing both herself and her family and entourage in a potentially dangerous situation. Are their deaths connected to plots to remove Elizabeth from the throne? They are certainly connected to Mary, Queen of Scots on several levels, even involving some of Elizabeth's favourites, including Robert, Earl of Leicester.
There are moments of good humour in this book. For example, the old woman that Ursula rescued from charges of witchcraft in Wales a few books ago attracts a beau - an elderly gentleman who creates very risque topiary shapes, when he isn't looking in at the serving girls that is. Unfortunately, Gladys' propensity for cursing people sees her get into more trouble in this book, particularly after she rejects her suitors offer of marriage.
If there was anything that bothers me at all about this book, it is the authors insistence at dropping just one or two sentences into the narrative to say that this first person account is actually being told looking back over many years. It really doesn't need to be there. There was also a couple of brief mentions about the nearness that Ursula had come to an inappropriate relationship with her servant Brockley that I didn't feel actually needed to be here. These are however maybe three or four sentences throughout the whole book, and therefore don't really impede my enjoyment of them.
With royal plots, accusations of witchcraft, and a huge twist in this book regarding Ursula's past this was a very entertaining read, and the foundations have been laid for some very interesting developments in the life of Ursula Stannard (formerly known as Ursula Blanchard, and Ursula de la Roche). I guess I will just have to wait for the next book to come out though.
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