In the autumn of 1558, church bells across England ring out the news-Elizabeth is queen. One woman hears them with dread; Amy Dudley, wife of Sir Robert, knows that with Elizabeth ion the throne he will return to the glamorous Tudor court. Amy's hopes that the ambitions of the Dudley family had died when Robert's father was beheaded are ended. The triumphant peal of bells summon her husband once more to power-and to a passionate young queen.
Elizabeth has inherited a bankrupt and rebellious country. Her advisor William Cecil warns that she will only survive if she marries a strong prince, but the only man Elizabeth desires is her childhood friend.
Robert is sure that he can reclaim his destiny at Elizabeth's side. And as queen and courtier fall in love, Dudley begins to contemplate the impossible-setting aside his loving wife to marry the young Elizabeth.