Please help me welcome author Victoria Lamb to Passages to the Past today! Victoria is currently on tour for the UK release of her novel, His Dark Lady, and I am honored to have her here with a guest post and giveaway!
Take it away, Victoria...
His Dark Lady follows the course of the infamous Babington plot against Elizabeth I, when Catholic plotters sought to put Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne. Mary Stuart was being held under guard by her cousin Elizabeth when the plot came to light. Elizabeth's most dangerous political prisoner, Mary was a beacon of hope to disenfranchised Catholics at home and in exile. For they knew that if they could depose the Protestant Elizabeth, they could swiftly return England to Catholicism under the devout Mary.
Luckily for Elizabeth, the English plotters, led by Anthony Babington, appear to have been remarkably naive and inept, despite their use of complex codes and ciphers. Their band of conspirators was eventually infiltrated by a handful of spies in the pay of Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth's notorious spymaster. The main purpose of their infiltration was to incriminate Mary Stuart in Babington's conspiracy. But the Scots Queen was a cautious and intelligent woman, and their goal of entrapment turned out to be far harder than anyone had expected. So much so, in fact, that it almost failed.
This is the tense, conspiratorial background against which my new Lucy Morgan novel, His Dark Lady, is played out. My heroine Lucy is tangled up in dangerous secrets too, from the clandestine wedding of Robert Dudley, the Queen's favourite, to the Queen's hated cousin Lettice, to Lucy's own forbidden involvement with a young player, William Shakespeare, fresh from the country.
Lucy Morgan, introduced in The Queen's Secret as a black court singer, the orphan of noble African captives, is gradually settling into her new role as lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth I, though she has not yet lost the stigma of her more humble beginnings. When Shakespeare encounters Lucy during a performance at the Cross Keys Inn in London, he wonders eagerly how to impress this dusky court beauty. But once the two begin to fall in love, recklessly and against all advice, Shakespeare has to deal with the inevitable cracks in his marriage to Anne Hathaway, waiting for him back in Warwickshire.
Meanwhile Lucy's guardian, the secret agent Goodluck, is facing betrayal from within Walsingham's spy network. Working undercover to expose the Babington plotters, the slightest misstep could get him killed and jeopardise England's safety. But as his friends begin to die, Goodluck knows he must discover the identity of the traitor, or he will be next.
So a rich narrative mix for His Dark Lady, with both Elizabeth I and Shakespeare as narrative characters, during one of the most serious crises of Elizabeth's reign.
UK Publication Date: February 28, 2013
When young, aspiring playwright William Shakespeare encounters Lucy Morgan, one of Queen Elizabeth I's ladies-in-waiting, the two fall passionately in love. He declares Lucy the inspiration for his work, but what secret is Will hiding from his muse?
Meanwhile, Lucy has her own secret - and one that could destroy her world if exposed. No longer the chaste maid so valued by the Virgin Queen, she also bore witness to the clandestine wedding of Lettice Knollys and Robert Dudley, a match forbidden by the monarch.
England is in peril. Queen Elizabeth's health is deteriorating, her throne under siege from Catholic plotters and threats of war with Spain. Faced with deciding the fate of her long-term prisoner, Mary, Queen of Scots, she needs a trusted circle of advisors around her now more than ever. But who can she turn to when those closest to her have proved disloyal?
And how secure is Lucy's position at court, now that she has learned the dangerous art of keeping secrets?
About the Author
Victoria Lamb grew up in the peaceful Isle of Man, benefiting from a vast library of books and a family of writers from which to take inspiration. She now lives with her own family in a three-hundred year old farmhouse on the fringes of Cornwall's Bodmin Moor, where she walks most days and writes in a study overlooking fields of moorland ponies.
She has a serious addiction to Twitter, and invites other such addicts to chat with her there about books and nonsense. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.
Passages to the Past has one copy of His Dark Lady up for grabs! To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.
Giveaway is open internationally and ends on March 14th. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway