England is a viper's nest of conspiracy. It is 1852, and the conflict between Protestants and Catholics threatens to tear the country in two. While Queen Elizabeth I holds the reins of power, there are those whose loyalty lies with her imprisoned cousin--Mary, Queen of Scots. On his first major mission for Sir Francis Walsingham, the young John Shakespeare is ordered to untangle a conspiracy to free the Stuart queen from Sheffield Castle. All too soon, he realizes that the tentacles of the plot reach deep into his native Warwickshire and threaten his own friends and family. His duty lies with Elizabeth … but how far will he go to protect those he loves?