This novel follows the life of Elizabeth Woodvile after the death of her first husband as she becomes the Queen of England. This is the first installment of The Cousins War series, following Elizabeth Woodville, former for the House of Lancaster, as her ambitions lead her to become Queen of England.
Elizabeth Woodville became a widow during the War of the Roses. Her property has been taken from her in-laws and her two Grey sons have nothing for inheritance. She attracts the attention of King Edward from the House of York after a victorious battle.
She invites him to her home, Grafton Manor and they are received by Jaquetta, her mother. They discuss the war and he says he will return to Elizabeth tomorrow. Her mother encourages Elizabeth to use magic to assist with seduction since the family is said to be descendents of the water goddess, Melusina.
Edward returns with good news and dines with the family. They both go for a walk and Elizabeth denies him, ensuring he returns the next day. The men of the family are suspicious since Edward is known to be lecher.
Elizabeth vows to retain her honour. He returns in secret before going to war and she denies him again, pulling his sword against him. Richard declares she will be the last woman to ever do so. She senses a dreadful problem in the near future with her sons.
She doesn't see him for a week and her father's men are called to fight for the Yorks. Soon, Edward and the army march by the Manor, where he is received by the family. In secret, they agree to marry the next morning. Jaquetta is a witness.
Her brother Anthony becomes aware of everything. Elizabeth waits for Edward's return with anticipation and he does, telling her to keep lying low until he works things out in the capital – Warwick wishes for him to wed a French princess.
Weeks later, the men of the family are called to court and Jacquetta insists Anthony write about the events. He does with great pride as Edward has rejected Warwick's plan and announced his marriage to Elizabeth. Nobles were outraged as the Rivers family is not high in the hierarchy.
The Rivers understand they are in a dangerous position but accept it. The ladies are summoned to court for the Reading and upon arrival, meet with Cecily, Edward's mother who does not approve of this. They become enemies instantly along with Warwick and Hastings.
Following the coronation and jousting tournament, she and Jacquetta plan weddings for a month for her siblings and sons to raise their status. Her sister, Katherine, is betrothed to an arrogant child named Henry Stafford.
Five years later, Elizabeth has three daughters and Warwick has chosen to make George, Edward's brother who is married to Warwick's daughter, the new king. Elizabeth's father and brother killed. She moves with her family to the Tower of London. Edward manages to stop the battle via an alliance.
Elizabeth and Jacquetta practice magic to ensure a son is born. A year later, there is unrest from the Lancasters, George & Warwick have betrayed again, Margaret Beaufort is seen as a potential threat and Margaret d'Anjou raises a French army for Lancaster. Edward leaves for battle.
She moves again to the Tower and Jacquetta is under house arrest but soon released. Warwick wins the battle and the family goes into sanctuary in Westminster Abbey. Nearly a year later, Edward brings his forces into city, desiring to reclaim everything. He returns to battle the next day and during Easter, Elizabeth & Jacquetta call a thick fog to assist Edward. Warwick is killed.
Following the victory, there is a week of moving to the Tower and settling situations before Edward leaves for the final battle against Lancaster. With another victory, Edward makes the decision to slaughter those who called sanctuary. In London, a few days later, there is an attack by Thomas Neville.
Edward finally comes home and that night, he and his brothers kill the former King Henry VI. Elizabeth is pregnant again and Richard marries Anne, securing a fortune for himself. Margaret Beaufort is made a lady-in-waiting. A year later, Jacquetta and the newborn daughter die.
Soon, it's time for her son Edward, Prince of Wales, to leave for Wales and she appoints Anthony as guardian. Elizabeth becomes pregnant and gives birth to a boy named Richard.
George commits treason and Elizabeth's next son, George, dies shortly after due to frailty. Two girls are born afterwards and time passes before King Edward passes away. He leaves his son Edward to Richard's care, who kidnaps him and places Anthony and Richard Grey under arrest.
Richard desires the crown but allows for the coronation of Prince Edward and Elizabeth wages her own war against him, finding an unlikely ally in William Hastings. Katherine visits her with a napkin he once used so a spell can be used. Richard demands her second son and he orders Hastings to be executed. The Privy Council then declares all of the late King Edward's children as bastards.
Prince Richard is secretly sent away for safety and Thomas Grey leaves to gather troops. Elizabeth dresses a peasant boy as her son, Richard. Her daughter Elizabeth challenges her for her choices as she has Foresight too and soon, Anthony & Richard Grey are executed.
Mother and daughter ensure a flood stops Henry Tudor's forces. King Richard comes to visit and assure Elizabeth he did not kill Prince Edward. He tells her to send her daughters to court and she is to be sent to the countryside. Her daughter, Elizabeth wakes and King Richard is attracted to her.
Elizabeth betroths her daughter to Henry Tudor and curses the family who killed her sons.
Finally, they leave sanctuary and three daughters go to court and Elizabeth with her two youngest to the countryside. After some time, romance begins with Richard and her daughter which ends terribly.
Elizabeth finally sees her son, Richard, once again.
Best part of story, including ending:
It was a great narration of how ambitious women climbed the ranks before they had proper rights.
Best scene in story:
The last scene, when Elizabeth is reunited with her son Richard, she shows pure love and concern without interlacing any of her usual ambitious intentions.
Opinion about the main character:
Elizabeth is personable, loved among the citizens and maintains her elegance among the nobles who greatly dislike her.