Historical romance set in early 16th century England, this focusses on the sister of Henry VIII, Mary Tudor, who became the ""reluctant queen"" of France at her brother's command that she marry the elderly French king and seal peace between two warring countries. Mary is pictured as a high spirited girl and she makes a shrewd bargain with her brother before consenting to this hateful marriage. She makes him agree that when she is widowed, she may marry the man of her choice. That man is the handsome, dashing Charles Brandon, favorite of Henry, but not of royal birth. The book traces their romance from an impetuous kiss under the mistletoe to their secret marriage in France, immediately following the death of the French king, three months after he married Mary. Though the characters appear somewhat wooden, the colorful backdrop of courtly pageantry, the sumptuous dress, the lavish banquets, the colorful tournaments, compensate. Highly readable- for the ladies.