This fast-moving story that is indeed hard to put down. The spunky heroine Lady Catherine faces multiple changes of fortune as she grows from a much pampered child of a court favorite, to the unwelcome orphan living with an overworked aunt, to a Lady of Queen Elizabeth's court, to the outcast struggling to survive in the mysterious New World town of Roanoke.
Though Cate and much of her specific adventures are fictionalized, a large amount of the details in the book are historically accurate. Most of the characters carry the names of historical figures. Notes at the end of the book serve to educate the reader about the truths, theories, and fictionalizations in the story.
Though unsure of herself, her burgeoning love, and intrigues at court, Cate "comes to herself" as a level headed, open-minded colonist.