Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s “Queen Mary’s Daughter” is a historical fiction that poses and answers the question, “What if Mary, Queen of Scots’s daughter had survived childbirth and become a time-traveler?” Initially, readers might be worried that they don’t have enough historical background on Mary Stuart or the events surrounding this time period in Scotland and England. Orford reduces the intricacies of this period of history to make it understandable for almost any audience.
Orford’s story is the adventure/romantic tale of Mary Elizabeth Stuart, a young, attractive American woman of Scottish heritage, and James “Jamie” Stuart, an equally young, attractive Scottish native. Traveling to Kinross, Scotland, at her grandmother’s request, Mary Elizabeth finds herself suddenly some 450 years in the past, taking part in events with very little understanding of their impact. She learns that her grandmother was actually a time-traveler, and she also has this same ability. The possibilities of changing the course of Scotland “for the better” becomes the crux on which the plot revolves.
Orford creates interesting central characters that are fun and engaging. She has a good sense of the historical events which surrounded this time period. The exploration of what might have occurred, should Mary, Queen of Scot’s had produced a living heir is interesting. Orford condenses or ignores some of the historical intricacies, but she does so to the benefit of the plot. In a few places, the time travel was a bit too convenient, but it was always used in an attempt to move the story and characters forward. Any clichés built around Mary Elizabeth, Jamie and their adventures can be forgiven for Orford’s conceit of revealing the outcomes of her central conceit.
In “Queen Mary’s Daughter,” Orford is able to craft a romantic adventure around a nice bit of historical fiction that is a fun exploration for genre-readers and fans of “Outlander” and “Reign”. The life and times of these time-travelers is an exciting distraction, in an interesting story of “what if”.