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Authors: Elizabeth Loupas

The Flower Reader

BOOK: The Flower Reader
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Praise for
The Flower Reader

“Elizabeth Loupas writes a spellbinding story of Rinette Leslie, a spirited young woman who carries secrets and gifts that threaten the throne of Mary, Queen of Scotland, in the 1560s. Assassins, secret caskets, and the whispers flowers can speak thread through the story. The flower imagery is lovely.”

—Karleen Koen,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Through a Glass Darkly
Before Versailles

“Elizabeth Loupas’s engaging second effort gives a thought-provoking peek into the inner workings of the court of Mary, Queen of Scots. Thick with intrigue and spiced with scandal,
The Flower Reader
is a lush, vibrant tapestry of a book.”

—Deanna Raybourn,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Dark Enquiry

Praise for
The Second Duchess

“[A] winning debut…Readers will warm immediately to the clever, intelligent Barbara, while the demanding, sometimes brutal Alfonso makes an intriguing man of mystery.”

Publishers Weekly

“The historical mystery at the heart of this excellent novel kept me turning pages late into the night even as I admonished myself to slow down and savor the feast for the senses laid out on each page.”

—Brenda Rickman Vantrease, author of
The Heretic’s Wife

“Elizabeth Loupas has opened for us a lost world of ducal power and decadence, and yet made her resilient Renaissance heroine one that a modern woman can admire and root for. Bravo!”

—Karen Harper, national bestselling author of
Mistress Shakespeare
The Irish Princess

“Very satisfying…Alfonso is fascinating, but Barbara is the jewel here. Her courage and candor seduce the reader as well as her enigmatic new husband.” —Cecelia Holland, author of
The King’s Witch

“I have rarely read a historical novel or mystery that I as fully, gladly inhabited as I did
The Second Duchess
. I felt actual regret as I neared its end because I did not want to part company with Elizabeth Loupas’s complex, engaging, intriguing characters.”

—Margaret Frazer, author of the Dame Frevisse Mystery series and the Joliffe Mystery series

“Rich in historical detail and all the dangerous grandeur of court life in Renaissance Italy. Think
The Other Boleyn Girl

—C. S. Harris, author of the Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery series

“Utterly mesmerizing, captivating from the first page. Thick with shadowy court intrigues and lush period detail,
The Second Duchess
is a Renaissance masterpiece come to life.”

—Deanna Raybourn, author of
Dark Road to Darjeeling

“Have you ever read a book that you wish you had written? Have you ever read a book that you wish did not end? For me,
The Second Duchess
is that book…The wonderful research and the setting of sixteenth-century Ferrara serve to flesh out the plot into a fascinating historical mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed
The Second Duchess
and recommend it to all who love a good historical mystery with a well-developed romantic component. I look forward to Elizabeth Loupas’s next book.”

Historical Novels Review
(Editor’s Choice)


The Second Duchess




Published by New American Library, a division of

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,

Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

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Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632,

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Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,

Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published by New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

First Printing, April 2012

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Copyright © Kristine Elizabeth Loupas, 2012

Illustrated map of Ferrara and family trees by Don Huff Design and Illustration (

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.



Loupas, Elizabeth.

The flower reader/Elizabeth Loupas.

p. cm.

ISBN: 978-1-101-58017-2

1. Scotland—History—1057–1603—Fiction. 2. Courts and courtiers—Fiction.

3. Mary, Queen of Scots, 1542–1587—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3612.O825F57 2012

813.6—dc23 2011045875

Set in Bembo

Designed by Ginger Legato

Printed in the United States of America


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

In loving memory
of my mother,
descendant of a long line of Scots.
Margaret Fleming Gross


Those marked with an asterisk are fictional.


*Marina Leslie, called Rinette, heiress of the Leslies of Granmuir.

*Alexander Gordon of Glenlithie, Rinette’s childhood sweetheart.

*Màiri Gordon, Rinette’s daughter.

*Katherine Hamilton, called Kitte, Rinette’s daughter.

*Patrick Leslie of Granmuir, Rinette’s father, second cousin of the Earl of Rothes. Died in France 1551.

*Blanche of Orléans, Rinette’s mother, illegitimate daughter of Louis I of Orléans, Duke of Longueville, and Agnès Loury, a peasant girl. Half sister of Louis II of Orléans, Duke of Longueville, Mary of Guise’s first husband. Since 1551, a Benedictine nun at the abbey of Montmartre in Paris.

*Annabella Gordon, Lady Leslie, Patrick Leslie’s mother and Rinette’s grandmother, called Grannie. Died 1557.

*Marina Leslie (the elder), Patrick Leslie’s unmarried aunt and Rinette’s great-aunt, called Gran’auntie. Died 1550.

*Margot Loury, Rinette’s half aunt, legitimate daughter of Agnès Loury and her husband. Called Tante-Mar.

*Wat Cairnie, Rinette’s master of horse, a retainer of the Leslies of Granmuir.

*Annis Cairnie, his cousin, wet nurse to Màiri Gordon and later household retainer.

*Norman More, castellan of Granmuir.

*Bessie More, his wife.

*Jennet More, daughter of Norman and Bessie More, Rinette’s foster sister.

*Davy More, son of Norman and Bessie More.

*Père Guillaume, priest in charge of Saint Ninian’s Chapel within Granmuir.

*Robinet Loury, master of arms at Granmuir, cousin of Margot Loury.

*Gill, a stableboy originally in service to Rannoch Hamilton of Kinmeall.

*Libbet, sometimes called Mousie, a mute servant girl, originally in service to Rannoch Hamilton of Kinmeall.

*Una MacAlpin, a bedchamber woman brought to Granmuir from Edinburgh.


Mary of Guise, queen regent of Scotland.

Mary Stuart, queen of Scots, daughter of James V and Mary of Guise.

James Stewart, Earl of Moray, Mary Stuart’s illegitimate half brother.

Agnes Keith, James Stewart’s wife and the Countess of Moray. Niece of Elizabeth Keith, Countess of Huntly.

Margaret Erskine, James Stewart’s mother, favorite mistress of James V of Scotland and widow of Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven.

Sir William Douglas of Lochleven, Margaret Erskine’s legitimate son.

Agnes Leslie, his wife, sister of Andrew Leslie, fifth Earl of Rothes.

John Stewart of Coldingham, Mary Stuart’s illegitimate half brother.

Jean Hepburn, sister of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, and wife of John Stewart.

BOOK: The Flower Reader
4.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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