Having just lost her father, down on her luck Lady Catherine "Cate" Archer is forced to rely on the kindness of relatives who obviously don't want her around. Fortunately Queen Elizabeth remembers Cate's father and his long time service to her and invites Cate to become one of her ladies. Young Cate must learn the ins and outs of life as a lady-in-waiting. She soon earns the favor of Queen Elizabeth which lands her some enemies among the other ladies. All goes well until Cate sets eyes on dashing courtier Sir Walter Ralegh. Cate draws the Queen's ire when the budding romance is uncovered as Elizabeth demands Ralegh only pay court to her. Cate is banished to the tower and Ralegh who depends on the Queen to finance his potential money making ventures in the New World, is disgraced.
Finally, Ralegh secures Cate's release on the condition that she be banished to Roanoke Colony in the New World and that Ralegh not be allowed to follow. Cate sets sail for Roanoke and the party lands only to find that the previous inhabitants of Roanoke Colony have been killed by the surrounding native tribes. The colonists try to rebuild Roanoke but soon realize they are not wanted and may face the same fate as the last colonists. Waiting for help from England that looks like it will never come, their only hope of survival lies with the Native American Manteo who had helped the colonists previously.
I really liked the character of Cate. In her actions she was definitely a woman outside of her time-adventurous and not afraid to stand up for herself and others. Both parts of the book-Cate's life in Elizabeth's court and then her life as a colonist in Roanoke were interesting. Klein paints a fantastic picture of the aging and jealous Elizabeth who was vain enough to think all the young men of court were all in love with her.
The story is told in shifting view points between Cate, Ralegh and Manteo with Cate's being the most fleshed out. I usually like stories told in this manner and enjoyed the Cate/Manteo parts but had a wee bit of a problem "adjusting" to Ralegh's view point because his was told differently-in letter format. Also I understand that Ralegh was Cate's first love but she throws away her comfortable life at Elizabeth's court for this man and he never actually told her he loved her! For such a strong character overall, Cate was quite naive in this respect. Those were the only two weaker points of the story for me.
I think my favorite part was when the story moved to Roanoke detailing the problems with the natives and the subsequent failure of the colony. Klein does an excellent job giving a balanced view of both sides of the issue and her explanation of what happened to the colonists at Roanoke seemed entirely plausible and much better written than other fictional accounts I have read on the subject.
I really enjoyed this one and look forward to reading her other books Ophelia, Two Girls of Gettysburg, and Lady Macbeth's Daughter.
*Note* Ralegh, although not the most popular spelling, is how the author spells it in the book.
I received this book as part of an ARC Tour from Good Golly Miss Holly