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.