Wednesday, April 17, 2013

For today's blog, here is a synopsis of Book Three of the Queen of Scots Suite - The Midwife's Secret: The Mystery of the Hidden Princess - No spoilers!

Synopsis:  The Midwife’s Secret: PART I  – “The Mysteryof the Hidden Princess

The Queen of Scots had favored  Loch Leven Castle as a retreat ideal for falconry. After her surrender the rebel lairds choose it for her prison. A story circulates that she miscarried twins while imprisoned on the lake, and that her jailors fed the remains to shorebirds.  Reports that one of the fetuses survives prompts the regent Morton to order fruitless excavations, and to begin a search for bairns of the appropriate age.  Like Herod before him, his effort yields no results
The legend of Loch Leven might have died, but for two unlinked events. The morning after a young midwife named Mariel Fraser dies in her lover Kirkcaldy’s arms, a victim of Morton’s rack, the knight Kirkcaldy of Grange leaves Edinburgh Castle and returns with a child.
“Her name is Daisy,” he declares “and she is mine.”
Kirkcaldy’s long suffering wife Margaret asked why he thinks the bairn is his.
“She is because I say she is.” The good Scotswoman does not contradict her husband nor does she believe a word of it.   Lady Grange  suspected that an affaire de coeur between Kirkcaldy and the midwife at the time Mariel arrived to deliver their friend Maitland’s heir. But Margaret is her husband’s bursar and can tally calendar months as well as coins. Daisy’s age does not match her husband’s claim.  At the time of her conception, Kirkcaldy would have been occupied chasing the queen's husband Bothwell across the North Sea.
 Two years later when the castle falls to English siege guns and Kirkcaldy faces a traitor’s death, Daisy is not among its refugees.  She has been sent from Edinburgh Castle in the care of Kirkcaldy’s daughter Janet, Lady Ferniehirst. Pursuant to her father's instructions, Janet delivers her ward to Joinville to the custody of the House of Guise, and mysteriously dies on her homeward bound journey.

Years later, a second strange tale reaches Morton’s ears regarding a Scottish child at the abbey of Saint Pierre les Dames in Rheims. For undisclosed reasons, she is shooed into a hole in the chapel floor when strangers visit, and is fiercely guarded by the abbess Renee de Guise, Marie Stuart’s aunt. Her name is Marguerite de’Kircaldie, but the nuns call her La Belle Ecossaise because of her exceptional beauty.  Morton and his English cohort Sir Francis Walsingham find the report especially intriguing, since Kirkcaldy was an ardent Calvinist and a personal enemy of the Duke of Guise. 

When the rumors merge, battle lines are drawn pitting Marguerite de Kircaldie and her mentor and guardian Abbess Renee de Guise against a host of vicious men and ambitious women on both sides of the English Channel, some who wished to exploit Marguerite’s suspected bloodline and others who plot her death. 

In a story told primarily from the point of view of  the mysterious Marguerite and the abbess Renee, but with vignettes of cardinals and kings, the legends surrounding the origin of La Belle Écossaise become less important than a young woman’s  struggle  to choose her destiny inspite of the challenges and dangers she faces.

Author’s note: The book is inappropriate for young readers due to strong sexual content in the relationship between the Earl of Morton and Kirkcaldy’s treacherous sister-in-law Helen Leslie, and scenes of torture, rape and murder which adult readers have found appropriately presented, but which may be too graphic for some. Most of the  characters central to the story are actual historical figures.  The midwife Mariel Fraser is a construct.

Midwife's Secret-The Mystery of the Hidden Princess is on sale at Amazon and Kindle  The second independent segment of the story--The Midwife's Secret - The Other Daughter-- is coming this summer.

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