She desired him above all others . . .
Would he now be her executioner?
Lady Gwyneth Macleod has staked her fortune and her reputation to help Mary, Queen of Scots take her rightful place on the throne. But her struggle to guide the reckless, defiant queen has put her at perilous odds with Rowan Graham, a laird dangerously accomplished in both passion and affairs of state. And the more Gwyneth challenges his intentions, the less he can resist the desire igniting between them. Now, with her country in turmoil and treachery shadowing her every step, will Gwyneth's last daring gamble lead her to the ultimate betrayal -- or a destiny greater than she could ever imagine?
Don't miss this dramatic new historical romance from the incomparable Shannon Drake!
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1 . Couldn't put it down!
Posted August 12, 2009 by Annie , Portsmouth OhioFrom the 1st page to the last page, this book is romantic, exciting, filled with action and intriguing. Definitely a book worthy of reading and well worth the money. The historical detail is well within the time period and offers tidbits of fact laced with adventure and fiction. If you love historical fiction during the Tudor era, this book is definitely for you..
October 31, 2007
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Excerpt from The Queen's Lady by Shannon Drake
August 19, Year of Our Lord 1561
"Who is that?" one of the maids whispered, hovering behind Queen Mary as they arrived, earlier than expected, at Leith. Gwenyth wasn't sure who had spoken; Mary, Queen of Scots, had left her native land as a child with four ladies-in-waiting, all of them also named Mary: Mary Seton, Mary Fleming, Mary Livingstone and Mary Beaton. Gwenyth liked them all very much. They were all charming and sweet. Each had her individual personality traits, but they were known collectively as "the Marys" or "the queen's Marys," and sometimes it seemed as if they had become one collective person, as now, when Gwenyth wasn't sure who had spoken.
They were all--including the queen--watching the shore, their eyes on the contingent awaiting them. The queen's beautiful dark eyes seemed, to Gwenyth, as misty as the day itself.
Gwenyth didn't think the queen had heard the question, until suddenly she replied. "Rowan. Rowan Graham, Lord of Lochraven. He visited France with my half brother, Lord James, some months ago."
Gwenyth had heard the name. Rowan Graham was considered to be one of the most powerful nobles in Scotland. She seemed to recall that there was some strange tragedy connected with him, but she didn't know what it was. She also knew that he had a reputation for speaking boldly and having the personal power and political strength to assure he was heard.
She sensed at that moment that this man was destined to haunt her life. He was impossible to miss, standing beside the queen's half brother and regent, Lord James Stewart. Mary herself was tall, at five feet and eleven inches, taller than most of the men who served her. James himself was not as tall, but even if he had been taller than the queen, the man by his side would have towered above him in the mist that shrouded the land. The light was thin, but what there was of it gilded his wheat-gold hair, turning him into a golden lord, a warrior knight, akin to the Viking raiders of long ago. He was clad in the colors of his clan, blues and greens and, despite the fashionable raiment of the group assembled to greet the returning queen, he was the man to whom eyes turned.
Lochraven, Gwenyth thought. A Highland holding. Even in Scotland, the Highlanders were considered a race unto themselves. Gwenyth knew Scotland better than her queen, and she knew that a Highland lord could be a dangerous man, for she was from the Highlands herself, and very aware of the fierce power of the clan thanes. Rowan Graham was a man to be watched.
Not that the queen had a reason to fear any man in Scotland. Mary had been asked to return home, but there were things Gwenyth knew that the queen did not. Just a year ago, Protestantism had become the official religion in Scotland, and with fanatical men--persuasive men--such as John Knox preaching in Edinburgh, the queen's devotion to the Catholic faith could place her in danger. The thought made Gwenyth angry; Mary's intent was to let people worship as they chose. Surely the same courtesy should be extended to the queen.
"Home. Scotland." Mary murmured the two words as if trying, in her own mind, to make them synonymous.
Gwenyth was startled from her own thoughts and looked at her sovereign and friend worriedly. She herself was delighted to return home. Unlike many of the queen's ladies, she had been gone but a short time, only a year. Mary had left her home before the age of six. The Queen of Scotland was far more French than Scottish. When they had left France, Mary had stood at the rail of their ship for a long time, tears in her eyes, repeating, "Adieu, France."
For a moment Gwenyth felt a surge of resentment on behalf of Scotland. She loved her homeland. There was nothing as beautiful as the rocky coast, with its shades of gray, green and mauve in spring and summer turning to a fantasy of white come winter. And she loved her country's rugged castles, a match for the steep crags of the landscape. But perhaps she wasn't being fair to Mary. The queen had been away for a long time. It couldn't help that the French themselves considered Scotland a land where barbarians still roamed, possessed of nothing that could compare with the sophistication of their own country.
Mary was barely nineteen and a widow. No longer Queen of France but ruler of the country that was her birthright, a country she hardly knew.
The queen smiled at those around her. "We have won through," she said with forced cheer.
"Yes," agreed Mary Seton. "Despite all those wretched threats from Elizabeth."
There had been a certain sense of nervousness when they had sailed, since Queen Elizabeth had not responded to their request for safe passage. Many in France and Scotland had feared that the English queen intended to waylay and capture her cousin. There had been a terrifying moment when they had been stopped on their journey by English ships. However, the English crews had merely saluted, and their vessels, other than those in Mary's immediate party, had been inspected for pirates. Lord Eglington had been detained, but he had been assured of safe conduct after interrogation. At Tynemouth, Mary's horses and mules had been confiscated, with promises of a safe return once proper documents were obtained.
"This is quite exciting," Mary Seton said, indicating the tall Scotsman.
The queen looked out at the shore again, staring at the man in question. "He is not for you," she said simply.
"Perhaps there are more like him," Mary Livingstone said lightly.
"There are many like him," Gwenyth said. They all turned to stare at her, and she flushed. "Scotland is known for birthing some of the finest warriors in the world," she said, upset with herself for sounding so defensive.
"I vow we will have peace," Queen Mary said, her gaze still on the shore, then she shivered slightly.
It was not the cold, Gwenyth thought, that caused the shiver. She knew that Mary was thinking that France was a far grander country than Scotland, offering far more comfortable accommodations along with its warmer weather. Much of the known world, and certainly the French themselves, considered the country to be the epitome of art and learning and felt that Scotland had been blessed to be tied to such a great power by marriage. In France, Mary had known the finest of everything. Gwenyth feared that the queen would be disappointed by the amenities her homeland offered.
Cheers went up from the shore, as Mary offered a radiant smile. Despite their early arrival after five days at sea, a good-sized crowd had mustered. "Curiosity," Mary whispered to Gwenyth, a dry note in her voice.
"They've come to honor their queen," Gwenyth protested. Mary merely smiled and waved; radiant, she stepped from the ship, to be greeted first by her half brother James and then the milling court around him. The people were shouting joyously. Perhaps they had come out of nothing more than curiosity, but they were impressed now, as well they should be. Mary had never forgotten her Scots tongue; she spoke it fluently, with no trace of an accent. Her voice was clear, and she was not only beautiful--tall, stately and slender--but she moved with an unmistakably regal grace.