A sweeping tale of ambition, treachery, and passion incorporating 17th century historical figures, royalty, and events.
For generations Lady Diana de Vere’s family loyally served England’s crown. But after King Charles II’s untimely death, her father firmly opposes James II’s tyranny. Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St. Albans—the late king’s bastard son by actress Nell Gwyn—also rebels against his newly crowned uncle’s manipulation.
Political and religious turmoil bring revolution and yet another coronation before Charles returns
to from war to claim his promised bride. As companion to Queen Mary Stuart, Diana has followed her de Vere forbears into royal service. She expects Charles to abandon his military career after marriage, but he proves unwilling to join the ranks of the courtiers he despises and mistrusts.
In palace corridors and within their own household the young duke and duchess confront betrayals, scandals, and tragedies that threaten to divide them. And neither the privileges of birth nor proximity to the throne can ensure their security, their advancement—or their happiness.
Porter's ambitious novel of 17th-century England is brimming with vivid historical figures and events connected through Charles, Duke of St. Albans and illegitimate son of King Charles II, and his wife, Lady Diana de Vere, renowned for her "beauty, charity and religious devotion." Teenage Charles and the strong-willed Diana become enamored through hawking, and they marry. The years bring a dramatic change to the monarchy when King Charles II dies suddenly and the rigid James II assumes the crown; many are opposed to King James, including Diana and Charles, and there is tremendous unrest at home and abroad. Battles of will and war ensue on the field, in Parliament, and in the royal court over politics, religion, and privilege. The year 1689 brings a new coronation, of King William III, who has seized the throne from his father-in-law, King James; he rules with his wife, Queen Mary, who Diana serves as maid of honor and trusted confidante. Charles and Diana weather two minor betrayals and a tragic loss in a long, loving, faithful marriage with many children. Porter's palace plots, jealousy, betrayals, infidelities, and beheadings are rigorously researched and are faithfully portrayed. (BookLife)