1588. In the height of her power is the legendary Elizabeth Tudor, history's most enigmatic queen. She is the virgin with many suitors; the victor of the Armada who hated war; the jewel-bedecked woman always pinching pennies. Elizabeth's flame-haired cousin, Lettice Knollys, is her bitter rival. In love with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex, the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth's throne, Lettice has been intertwined with Elizabeth since childhood. This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire: one trying to protect her country and throne; the other trying to regain power and position for her family. Their rivalry soon involves everyone close to Elizabeth from the famed courtiers who enriched the crown to the legendary poets and playwrights. And, for Elizabeth, to be married to her people meant she must rule as much with her heart as with her head.