First, I must be clear that Mary is certainly a flawed heroine. She made one poor decision after another upon returning to Scotland and pursuing the Darnley match. But she can hardly be faulted for the way she was raised - a Scottish queen from her first days, a French princess for nearly two decades, she was pampered and raised in such a way that she was always well aware of her status. But she was also often deprived of those she loved and who loved her the most - her mother, father in law, and husband all in short order. Family was important to Mary, so she naturally sought the guidance and protection of her self-serving half brother, Moray. She couldn't have know, but should have expected his treachery. And in further regards to family, one can only imagine her heartbreak at being all but abandoned by her only child, her beloved son. He too chose to protect his own ambition for the English crown, and had little motivation to help his wrongfully imprisoned mother.
As for Elizabeth, I'm not sure I even have the energy to deconstruct some of this utter nonsense. As I've maintained in other books about this topic, Elizabeth was an insecure, selfish, self-absorbed, manipulative, spoiled brat who knew full well the execution warrant would be served as fast as humanly possible; her counselors could not wait to get rid of Mary. Boo/hiss to Elizabeth. That's all the attention I care to give her.
As for the book itself, there are many issues. It jumps around for the majority of the first half or so and there's no consistency in the telling of events. This seemed to stop when Mary arrived in England. It is also beyond repetitive - this is not a complaint, it is a fact. If one needs that much information repeated time and time again, then perhaps something a little simpler to start with on the topic of these two would have been better.
Overall, highly disappointing. I'm wavering back and forth between two and three stars, how I wish goodreads allowed half stars! It had such potential but I just can't get beyond the obvious favoring of Elizabeth.
I can't say I recommend this one whole-heartedly. Perhaps for those who already have a good knowledge of the two queens and can see through the nonsense and bias in favor of Elizabeth.