Margaret Irwin proves once again that a respect for fact, a true sense of period and of drama, and full-blooded characterization have their rightful place in historical fiction. Here is the timeworn but timeless story of Bothwell and Mary, of bold, brusque, philandering adventurer whose loyalty to her never faltered. She is depicted as the gentle, gracious little Queen who was to gain spirit and courage through bitter betrayal. The familiar story is told against the background of violent, sordid intrigue, with the antagonism of the Bastard James, of the Protestant reformer, Knox, and the failure of her marriage to the insipid Darnley, with the murder first of Rizzi, then of Darnley (admittedly Bothwell's crime) as basic factors motivating the story. At the last, after years of quarreling resentment, the acknowledgment of Mary's love for Bothwell, and a few weeks' respite before the final treason. Tragic romance, dramatically told.