King James has apparently lost his appetite for hunting witches, so the medical skills and herbal knowledge that saw Frances accused of witchcraft no longer seem to hang over her like a death sentence.
The King would rather be hunting stag and boar – and Frances’s beloved husband Thomas is firmly established in the royal household as the Master of Buckhounds. Their family is growing and their estates are secure.
But life at court is never without intrigue, jealousy and danger for long, and a new arrival turns the world upside down.
George Villiers is a young man with the face of an angel – and as his many enemies are about to discover, the cunning heart of a devil.
Soon James is totally in thrall to this charismatic new lover. All the King’s former favourites are crushed by Villiers’ lies and ruthless scheming. Thomas’s life is made a misery and Frances is back under suspicion as Villiers – rapidly made the Earl of Buckingham – moves to secure the hand and fortune of her friend Katherine Manners.
Appalled at the courtier’s greed and ambition and the King’s weakness and lust, Frances finds herself drawn back towards her old friend Sir Walter Raleigh and his last, desperate plot to see a Catholic monarch on the throne. And then her troubles really begin…