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I expected a lot from this book, after reading several of Gergory's other novels. However, I found it to be quite disappointing and not up to her usual standard. That doesn't mean it was a bad book, just that I think she could have done better.
It tells the story of the first few years of Elizabeth I's reign, and of her affair with Robert Dudley. Also going on are her battles with the church and war with various other countries, but these are all pushed into the background, behind the romance. This is therefore not a book for anyone who wants to read about how she deals with the political challenges facing her.
In fact, it's not a book for anyone who wants to read about how she deals with anything, because she doesn't. Instead, she comes across as weak, paranoid, and cowardly. She collapses whenever Robert Dudley is not there to tell her what to do, and lets him manipulate her into doing what suits him best.
The other female character, Amy Dudley, is not better. She is basically a wimp - she is no match for Robert Dudley, who comes across as ambitious, intelligent and ruthless. She is content to sit in the country dreaming about a farm they could have together. She spends her time doing nothing more than waiting for him to write to her. As Robert Dudley is also unlikeable, it's difficult to get too involved in the book as it's hard to care about any of the characters.
But not impossible. Both Elizabeth and Amy show flashes of spirit - Elizabeth in framing Robert, and Amy when she argues with him. I therefore kept hoping that either of them would develop into characters with a bit more interest. Sadly, neither did. But an argument could be made that Gregory was trying to be historically realistic - Amy is devoutly religious, and therefore tries to be what the Catholic religion says a wife should be. Elizabeth is still young in this book, and it's known that even when she was older she could be insecure, jealous and poor at making decisions. But she could also be strong, intelligent and witty, and those three characteristics are mostly missing from Gergory's portrayal of her.
I did finish it, but would only recommend it if you are a diehard fan of Gregory, or enjoy historical romances and don't care much if the characters aren't that likeable. There's certainly plenty of historical detail, and as always it's interesting (if not accurate) from that perspective. But otherwise, I would advise you to read something else.