'I could not fathom they were going to kill the queen. Nor could I bear to witness Anne Boleyn's beheading...'
As a favour to a doomed queen, Kat Ashley agrees to become governess and confidante to the young Elizabeth Tudor. Together they suffer bitter exile, assassination attempts, and imprisonment, barely escaping with their reputations and their lives intact. But when Elizabeth is eventually crowned, Kat continues to serve her, faithfully guarding all of the queen's secrets, even the one that could bring down the monarchy...
Katherine Ashley is the daughter of a country squire with no hope of a future, until a chance meeting with Thomas Cromwell gets her sent to Henry VIII's court as a waiting gentlewoman to Queen Anne Boleyn and a spy for Cromwell. When Boleyn comes to an untimely end, Ashley becomes tutor and servant to her daughter, Elizabeth, and accompanies the girl throughout her trials and tribulations before she finally takes her father's throne and goes on to become England's greatest queen. Rarely does a work of historical fiction endeavor to cover so much territory Ashley lives through the reigns of four Tudors but Harper's diligent research, realistic portrayal, and insider/outsider heroine will hook those who can't get enough of England's turbulent history. Readers familiar with the period will feel at home and even manage some sympathy for men like Cromwell and Henry VIII. Still, bestseller Harper (Mistress Shakespeare) maintains her focus on the roles of women both powerful and powerless in Tudor England, resulting in another enjoyable proto-feminist historical romp.