The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory Harper, HK$104 Philippa Gregory has ploughed a lucrative literary furrow with her historical novels, focusing largely on the life, loves and, well, loves of the Tudors. These are the sort of corset-busting blockbusters that put the king into the queen, followed by a little light beheading, and then even more royal-on-royal action. The other queen in The Other Queen is Mary Queen of Scots. As the novel starts, she is at the centre of two plots - one to kill her, courtesy of Thomas Howard (boo, hiss); the other to save her from rebels in Scotland (boo, hiss). Pretty soon these two plots have smooched and multiplied. Quicker than you can say 'off with her head', Mary is being used as a weapon by factions hostile to her cousin, the first Queen Elizabeth. Gregory knows how to spin a yarn - although how much this is down to her and how much down to history is debatable. Still, her characters leap off the page, even if they do speak in a fussy sort of am-dram-ese. 'Marie, listen,' says Bothwell, 'Your body is not sacred. If it ever was - it is not sacred any more. I have had it. They all know I had you, and without your consent.' I'll bet Bothwell says that to all the other queens.