Westin knows her history, and the inner workings
of her characters' minds as well. She presents Elizabeth I through the eyes of two of her ladies-in-waiting. Rich, colorful details of
court life, captivating characters with suppressed sexuality, scandal and intrigue thrust the reader into the era
in this top-notch novel.

Lady Katherine Grey -- the sister of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey -- is young, impetuous and loyal to the queen. She admires Elizabeth and willingly follows her queen's decree that her ladies must remain chaste. However, when Elizabeth falls in love with Sir Robert Dudley, Katherine believes that she's free to express her passion for the Earl of Hereford. Her independence arouses Elizabeth's suspicions that Katherine is a danger to the throne, and Katherine and her beloved pay a high price for their passion.

As the years pass, Elizabeth becomes bitter. Mistress Mary Rogers is her lady-in-waiting and confidante when the queen is smitten with the Earl of Essex. Mary knows what could happen should she give in to her desire for the queen's godson. But love cannot be stopped, nor passion denied, even in a court where that can mean death. (NAL, Aug., 400 pp., $16.00)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin