Born to Treason
Smuggling pages from a forbidden book is a small act of defiance against Queen Elizabeth I, but it entangles Joan Pryce in a plot that may cost her both her heart and her life.
The queen has declared war on Catholics, making it illegal to befriend a priest, read foreign books, or even own a rosary. Joan is not only Catholic, but also Welsh, a people stripped of their rights by their English overlords. When Joan’s father dies, she is cast out from her home. Nicholas, the childhood friend she was supposed to marry, is a cold stranger, disfigured by an accident no one talks about. Joan is alone, simmering at the injustices around her.
When the chance comes to aid her country and her faith, Joan takes it. All she has to do is smuggle pieces of an illegal book printed by Catholics in Wales, and it gives her the chance to spend time in the company of an attractive outlaw.
Joan moves into a world of conspiracies where everyone has a secret. As she unravels the mysteries of Nicholas’s past, she wonders if he’s an ally or a dangerous enemy. An agent of the queen is closing in on her, and she doesn’t know whom she can trust. She must choose between her loyalty to her faith, her country, and her heart. One misstep will land her at the gallows.
I, Joan Pryce, was born to treason. If I did not choose between betraying my country and betraying my conscience, I would betray them both. Just as my father had.
Rain mingled with my tears as shovelfuls of mud thumped on his coffin. I pulled the hood of my cloak lower to hide the depths of my anger and grief. They were a window into my traitorous thoughts, and anyone might be a spy for Queen Elizabeth.
Our parish gave my father a Protestant funeral—buried on holy ground but unshriven, without the benefit of a priest or last rites. Some of the other mourners owned the implements to give my father a proper Catholic burial, bring peace to his soul and mine, but they were too frightened to bring the bells and candles from their hiding places. Too frightened to sing or pray. I glared at them from the safety of my hood, but none even glanced at me. White-livered cowards, every one.
And I the greatest coward of all, for I said nothing. The thought of the gallows choked off my protests. Where was my loyalty?
Blessed Mary, forgive me.