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1558: Elizabeth I is on the throne, though still challenged by Mary, and her Protestant faith threatens the Catholic Morland family.

The reign of Elizabeth I means that the Morlands must seek new spheres of influence to restore their fortunes. John, heir to Morland Place, rides north to wed the daughter of Black Will Percy, the Borders cattle lord, and learns that the way to win her heart is through blood and battle.

His gentle sister, Lettice, has also travelled north to marry the ruthless Scottish baron, Lord Robert Hamilton, and in the treacherous court of Mary, Queen of Scots, she has to learn the bleak and bitter lessons of survival…