Small (Rosamond) delivers another lusty historical, this one set during the reign of King Henry VIII before the bloodletting begins. Now of an age to be wed, Philippa Meredith, eldest daughter of the fair Rosamond Bolton of Friarsgate, is beautiful, canny and stubborn, adept in the ways of court, but not in the ways of the heart. Phillipa's beloved and most colorful uncle, Lord Cambridge, buys her a southern property to make her a more desirable bride after her childhood intended decides on the church instead of marriage. Serendipitously, Crispin St. Claire, the earl of Witton and an interested party in the property, is also an ideal husband candidate and, in return for a rich and well-connected but socially unimportant girl, gets the property he wants as well as a suitable bride. Crispin and Philippa find pleasure in each other's company in and out of bed, but Philippa's headstrong nature and a plot to assassinate the king may destroy the young couple's happiness before it has a chance to blossom. The ever-popular Small knows just what makes her readers swoon and, despite some clumsy, anachronistic prose (""'What is the emergency that I have been summoned to come with such haste?' he asked his cousin. 'The children are alright, aren't they?'"") and overuse of cliches such as ""love rod,"" she manages to craft engaging characters as well.