The year is 1561 and the young Mary Queen of Scots is coming back to Scotland from France to take over her rightful throne. She is coming to a place of much intrigue, bloodshed and a very harsh climate and surroundings, very far removed from the lightness and romance of the French court.
At the same time we have Allison Blackadder masquerading as a male crew member also comes back from France with only one hope - to wrest Castle Blackadder from the hold of the Hume family who took it from its original owners by force.
Allison's ability to masquerade as a boy is her plus point and the means by which she becomes the confidante of the Queen who needs to know the pulse of the people. Mary is surrounded by people whom she cannot trust and those that she trusts invariably betray her starting with her own husband. With his death, she is at the mercy of the Lords led by Bortwell who wants her to marry him so that he can wrest power for himself as King and finally rule both Scotland and England.
A twist to this story which was very unusual was the development of a lesbian relationship between first Allison and Angelique which was a full blown one and the deep, abiding attraction between Allison and the young Queen who deliberately uses her charms to entice and keep close to her Allison despite it being to Allison's detriment and safety to remain with the Queen.
I did not realize that Allison was a fictional character because the author has faithfully narrated events in history which actually took place. The positioning of Allison is so beautifully executed that it is as if she is actually part of the history of this era. The story of Mary Queen of Scots and Darnley and the rest of the Blackadders is actual history and not fiction.
I am so glad that I read this book as it got me out of the reading slump into which I had not just drifted into but got lodged into! hopefully my reading will improve. The fact that the author herself if a Blackadder and researched her own history added piquancy to this read.