In 1551 the population of England and Wales was a meagre three million and, more than in any other period of English history, patronage by the nobility, and particularly by the King, could infinitely transform the life of an educated and opportunistic young man. In April 1551, the arrival of Lady Jane Grey, together with her parents and two sisters to the family property, Shute House, offers Richard Stocker this precious opportunity. As a reward for courageously saving his daughters in a storm, Lord Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset, takes Richard into his employment. Richard embraces the rare chance he has been awarded and ascends within the family to become the Duke's personal secretary, encountering royalty along the way. In 1553 Richard's unwavering loyalty to the Grey family is tested when Lady Jane Grey is imprisoned in the Tower of London, having had her claim to the throne overturned by the ferociously Catholic Queen Mary Tudor. The book traces the impact on the life of an unassuming young man who gets caught up in a tide of religious and social conflict and a passionate and volatile romance.