Rebecca Lopez enjoys a life of privilege in Elizabeth's England -- yet she guards secrets she dares not reveal. The beautiful, tempestuous daughter of the queen's own physician, Rebecca is also a converso -- a Jew who practices her prohibited religion clandestinely -- helping others of her banned faith escape persecution and death. And her insatiable hunger for excitement often takes her to the bustling streets of London in male garb to experience the kind of adventure available only to men. But one such outing is leading her into a dangerous viper's nest built of intrigue and foul murder in the company of a dashing young actor who inflames her romantic passions, even as he escorts her toward peril, a charming and fearless would-be playwright who calls himself Will Shakespeare.
Kellerman's ( Sacred and Profane ) first departure from her series featuring Detective Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus is a tour de force that shouldn't be missed. The story is brilliantly original and breathtaking in its scope. The beautiful and intelligent heroine, Rebecca Lopez, and her family are conversos : Spanish Jews, posing as Anglicans in Elizabethan England, who practice their faith in secret. Rebecca's father, Roderigo, the queen's personal physician, leads a clandestine movement committed to smuggling Jews out of Spain. Rebecca's betrothed has just died during a mission and, though she mourns him, she yearns to be independent, to remain unmarried. Meanwhile, the young actor-playwright William Shakespeare is seeking revenge for the murder of his mentor, Harry Whitman. He decides to retrace his friend's last days in hopes of discovering clues to the killer's identity. Intent on different endeavors, Will and Rebecca eventually cross paths, changing their lives forever. Deft characterization and dazzling prose evoke the ambiance of the period. More than just a mystery, the novel is a spectacular epic--romantic, bawdy, witty and abounding with adventure. It's a stellar performance.