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The daughter of James I, the Princess Elizabeth would not be merely her father's pawn in the royal marriage market.
The court of James I is a dangerous place, with factions led by warring cousins Robert Cecil and Francis Bacon. While Europe seethes with conflict between Protestants and Catholics, James sees himself as a grand peacemaker—and wants to make his mark by trading his children for political treaties.
Henry, Prince of Wales, and his sister, Elizabeth, find themselves far more popular than their distrusted father, a perilous position for a child of a jealous king. When Elizabeth is introduced to one suitor, Frederick, the Elector Palatine, she feels the unexpected possibility of happiness. But her fate is not her own to choose—and when her parents brutally withdraw their support for the union, Elizabeth must take command of her own future, with the help of an unexpected ally, the slave girl Tallie, who seeks her own, very different freedom.
The Firemaster's Mistress may tell the real truth behind the mysterious gunpowder Plot of 1605, although it set out only to slip imaginative speculation into the cracks in historical fact.
Francis Quoynt, fire master and explosives expert
is recently back from Flanders and dreaming of making fireworks, not war. Instead, he is blackmailed by the English Secretary of State, Robert Cecil, into spying for the government on the Gunpowder Plotters. The trouble is that Francis likes Robert Catesby and his co-plotters far more than he likes his employer. This work also makes him the enemy of the woman he loves, the Catholic glove-maker, Kate Peach. It also leads him inexorably into the heart of a plot far larger than anyone imagined, international in scale and threatening the survival of England itself.
Though The Firemaster's Mistress is an historical novel, modern readers will find the politics, threat of terrorism, and information spinning frighteningly familiar.