Against a background of political intrigue and Tudor violence, love is not easy to find or sustain. The Queen Dowager of Scotland repudiates it and for Matho and Meg the struggle is made more difficult by an outbreak of war between England and Scotland. Disaster looms for them all.....
“Harbottle? What in God’s name d’ ye want to go there for?” A goblet of wine half-way to his mouth, Archibald Douglas, sixth Earl of Angus, stared at his daughter as if she were an imbecile.
“I want to see where I was born.” Meg took her place at table beside her father. “Why is that so silly?”
“The place is stuck in the middle of nowhere, lass, that’s why. There’s a sad excuse for a castle perched above a rocky burn and a hell of a long ride to anywhere. It’ll be raining,” he added morosely. “It was ever raining when I was there.”
Meg chose to ignore the steadily increasing flesh that had all but buried the handsome bones of his face. Loving him did not mean, however, that she agreed with everything he said and did. “As I understand it, you weren’t there very long.”
Angus banged the goblet on the table, anger in his drawn brows, but before he could speak, Meg followed up her attack. “You can’t deny you left your wife there to bear a child and rode off to further your own concerns.”
“Your mother was as hare-brained then as ye are today. Who do ye think had to safeguard what property we had and talk sweetly to Henry of England?” Angus roared his displeasure. “Not your mother, even though Henry was her brother. She expected everything to happen as she wished.”
“Well, why not?” Meg lifted her chin.
“Och, aye.” His eyebrows rose, causing furrows in his forehead. “I didna notice ye an’ James were on such good terms. It’s no’ that simple, Meg. Use your head for a change.”
He had a point. Her half-brother Jamie had never truly accepted her, no matter how much she tried to win his friendship. She softened her tone. “I don’t see what harm it can do, to visit the place where I was born. I’m curious, that’s all.”
“Ye’ll put yersel’ on a platter for the rabble that infests the Borders.” Angus waggled a warning finger under her nose. “If they snatch at ye, a demand for ransom won’t be the worst thing ye face. Most sensible folk would take an escort and head for Berwick.”
“I shall be perfectly safe, Father. When you join the Dowager’s train tomorrow, I shall also leave. The English Warden will meet me at the border and escort me south. A courier has gone on ahead. It is all arranged.” She leant forward, and laid her hand on the velvet of his sleeve. “Don’t worry about me. After all, I am half-English and the king’s niece.”
Queen’s Courier by Jen Black