Elizabeth comes to court when Henry VIII selects his sixth wife Katharine Parr whose brother Will becomes Elizabeth’s friend, helping her navigate the court. While Will tries to extricate himself from his marriage, Elizabeth is betrothed to another.
Several years after her fiancé’s death and Will’s annulment, they are free to plight their own troths and she becomes Will’s “mistress” for five years. During this time the world is turned upside down. Henry VIII dies, Katharine Parr remarries (with Elizabeth remaining as a lady-in-waiting until Katharine’s death in childbirth), Prince Edward becomes king. It is love that brings Elizabeth stability and happiness, but she is also part of the upheavals. When Edward dies it is rumored that Elizabeth is instrumental in bringing Lady Jane Grey to the throne and when Princess Mary becomes queen, life is tense. Yet everything takes another turn when Elizabeth Tudor rises as queen. They knew one another as young women and that friendship holds Elizabeth and Will in good stead as the queen reinstates Will at court. (GALLERY, Dec., 400 pp., $16.00)