Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, was shaped by many things: his family’s political leanings; a craving for power; but most of all, by the pain of the loss. First his young sister, then the children from his first marriage died. He fears the fragility of life and begins seeking solace in the Tudor court.
Elizabeth Stafford is in love with another young man when her father gives her hand to Thomas. But she becomes a dutiful wife and lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. She begins to fall in love with Thomas, and when young Bess Holland becomes his mistress, she does not go quietly into the background. Bess has no idea she has a powerful and determined rival for his love. But Thomas is far more concerned with making the Howards the most prominent family in England. He will push Anne Boleyn into Henry’s view, but Elizabeth is Queen Catherine’s close friend. Thus she is thrust into the intrigues of the court and faces forces powerful enough to lead to the Tower. (KENSINGTON, May, 344 pp., $15.00)