Plain and dutiful and a passionate Catholic, Mary Tudor is overjoyed when she becomes Queen of England. After the misery of her childhood, when her father, Henry VIII, rejected her and her mother, Mary feels at last that she is achieving her destiny. And when she marries Philip of Spain, her happiness is complete.
But Mary's delight quickly turns sour as she realizes that her husband does not love her--indeed, that he finds her devotion irritating. Desperate for a baby, she begins to believe that God is punishing her. Her people are horrified at the severity of the measures she takes and begin to to turn against their queen, who is lonely, frightened, and desperate for love.
Rafael, a member of Philip of Spain's entourage, reluctantly witnesses the tragedy that unfolds as the once-feted queen tightens her cruel hold on the nation. As Rafael becomes closer to Mary, his life--and newfound love--are caught up in the terrible chaos.
My Thoughts: This book was not what I expected at all. It moved kind of slow and I thought that this book would be more about Mary Tudor but it really wasn't. The book was about Rafael who was brought to England by Phillip of Spain to build a sundial for Mary. He has a few brief encounters with Mary but for the most part she is a secondary character in the story.
I didn't really like Rafael as a character. He was kind of whiny, sad and pretty naive. He just wasn't a great main character. You think you know who his story but as the book progresses, you find out more and more about his very odd life. He falls in love with Cecily who is a housekeeper in the home he is staying in. Cecily had the potential to be a great character but she needed to be developed a lot more. Rafael's interactions with Mary were kind of strange and seemed unrealistic. I find it hard to believe that a queen would confide her concerns about her pregnancy to some random guy.
I did find it interesting it that the story included a lot of information about Queen Mary's burning of heretics. I think the story would have been better if it focused more on Cecily, the burnings and the changes that happened in Mary's reign regarding religion. Overall, the whole story was pretty depressing, the end was kind of upsetting and I didn't love the characters. 2 stars.