The Virgin Queen's Court whispers about shy scholar Lady Linnet Norwood, who spent a year and a day trapped in the Faerie realm and returned as a ruined woman. Linnet, however, is not yet free of magick. Otherworldly forces plot to use her to incite a bloody uprising that will twist the fates of mortal and Faerie realms alike.
Exiled angel Zamiel wavers on the edge of accepting an offer from his fallen father to become Prince of Hell. Lucifer knows Lady Linnet's significance, and urges his son to pursue and protect her for sinister ends.
As Linnet flees those who would make her a pawn, Zamiel follows, tempting her trust and her passion. But the more he employs his killing rage on her behalf, the more he dreams of laying it aside in favor of peace.
If the two can find faith together, they might sunder the unholy alliance that threatens the dawn of the Golden Age of England.
Book two of The Magick Trilogy.
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The coronation of Elizabeth Tudor should have been Lady Linnet Norwood's greatest hour. Only forty of the finest ladies in England had been chosen to accompany the new Queen from the Tower of London to Westminster Abbey in her time of triumph.
Yet, as she rode bravely through the riotous streets on her shy bay mare, the new Countess of Glencross had never been more miserable.
Beneath her, the poor beast flinched at every boom of cannon fire, every explosion of cheers as the citizens roared their support for their proud young Queen. On every side, a jostling wall of onlookers in bright holiday finery hemmed her in. Hundreds more spilled from the windows of the whitewashed, dark-beamed inns and shops that lined Gracechurch Street.
To country-bred Linnet, the bewildering array of buildings seemed to blot out the sky. They leaned over the narrow cobblestone street until she feared the crowded structures would topple and crush them all like insects.
Sweet Jesus, she was as jumpy as the mare, her skin taut and twitching with nerves under her fur-lined court gown of crimson velvet.
Part of it was guilt. Her cloth-of-gold sleeves alone could have fed her modest household in their drafty castle on the Scottish march for a year.
Part of it was agonized worry over her accursed clumsiness. Blessed St. Bride, let the horse not startle, or she'd go pitching heels over head in her fine regalia from this gilded deathtrap of a sidesaddle.
But the worst part was fear.
Fearful as a witless sparrow. Ye'd start at yer own shadow! Jasper's old taunt rang in her ears. Aye, it was true, and none knew the reason better than he.
Her brother was long dead, his bones scattered on unconsecrated ground somewhere in the ravine below Glencross. But his unquiet spirit would haunt her memory to the Judgment Day.
"Begone, ye wee demon," she whispered to banish the thought.
She would have crossed herself, but drawing attention to her faith in this newly Protestant court was the last thing she wished for. She was a not-so-secret Catholic in a realm that despised them, her proud and ancient faith now stained with heretic blood by sad Mary Tudora devout Catholicand the cruel Inquisition her Spanish King had brought to England as a bridal gift.
She whispered a prayer for the dead Queen and those poor doomed souls. But the roaring crowd swallowed up her voice, burying her secrets under the joyful discord of happy England.
Unheard as usual.
Raising her chin, Linnet reined her prancing mare into line. Before her marched the crimson ranks of Queen Elizabeth's Gentlemen Pensioners, bristling with ceremonial pikes, behind a canopied litter draped in white satin and gold. Within, the redheaded young Queen waved and beamed at her adoring populace.
"No man in England would dare trouble ye here, ye wee bampot!" Impatient with her own timidity, Linnet chided herself, breath exploding white in the frosty air. "Ye're one of the queen's own ladies now, ye cloth-heid."
On either side, the proud beauties who served as the Queen's Maids of Honor slanted her dubious glances. One haughty young blonde edged her mare away. They'd done their level best to ignore her since the master of ceremoniesthe Queen's favorite, Lord Robert Dudleyhad waved her carelessly into place, his dark gypsy eyes already turning to more important matters, dismissing her soft-spoken thanks.