Siddonie Preston has spent sixteen years as the Duchess of Erland, studying her husband’s realm and its people, waiting to be named Lord after him and to serve Erland’s interest as she sees fit. As a benevolent and innovative ruler, the likes of which Erland has never seen before, she feels that the love of its people is guaranteed. But on the eve of her coronation her stepson–her husband’s only child, a despot-in-waiting who was purposefully disinherited–threatens her with a credible claim to the Lordship.
She feels she is justified in getting rid of him, but even after her coronation the problems won’t stop. Erland has never been ruled by a woman outside the traditional line of inheritance, and it seems every one of her advisors is waiting to betray her. Having gotten rid of her stepson, the temptation to deal with everyone else who presents an obstacle to her rule is hard to resist–especially when done for the good of the people.
Erland’s people will never love her as a human being, though, and when the moral price becomes too heavy to bear Siddonie must decide between the love of Erland and love of herself.