For young Scotswoman Helen Gloag, escape means survival. She sets sail for colonial America to escape the scandal of her misconduct. On board the ship, she befriends a rich woman to escape the stench and coarseness of steerage. But each seeming escape enmeshes Helen in more intrigue in Debbie Taylor's impressive debut historical novel, The Fourth Queen. Pirates seize the ship and Helen is taken captive, destined for the slave markets of Morocco. She is discovered by a dwarf Scotsman known as Microphilius, himself once a pirate captive, who selects Helen for the emperor's private harem. Told in the alternating voices of Helen and Microphilius, The Fourth Queen offers fascinating and inventive speculation on actual events. As Helen rises to power within the harem, she becomes the object of an obsessive killer who has been killing the queens to consolidate power. From country lass to a woman all too wise in the ways of seduction and the dangers of the harem's political and personal intrigues, Helen finally realizes that her strongest loyalties remain close to home. This beguiling novel resonates with the heated passions of the Marrakech harem and the evocative voices of two countrymen who find love far from their homeland.
Sandy Huseby writes from her homes in Fargo, North Dakota, and lakeside in northern Minnesota.