Amanda Scott, Author . Warner $6.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-446-61032-2

The characters in Scott's (The Abducted Heiress) 16th-century romance take nearly three quarters of the novel to deduce what is obvious to the reader from page one—that beautiful Elspeth, who slaves away as a servant with Cinderella-like endurance, is the book's "hidden heiress." Long assumed to be the bastard daughter of an exiled earl, Elspeth has been forced to earn her keep at Farnsworth Tower since she was a child. The worst aspect of her position, however, is dealing with Farnsworth's domineering wife and bratty daughters, who are little more than stereotypes. Everything changes the day she saves Patrick MacRae from capture in the woods and helps him secure a position as falconer at the Tower. His bearing indicates he's no mere criminal on the lam; in fact, he's a highland knight on a mission to reach Stirling, where King James V has been holding his laird hostage. King James and Cardinal Davey Beaton, the man behind Scotland's throne, play significant roles in the story, as do a group of magical "wee people," who help push Elspeth and Patrick together. Although it's clear from the start that Elspeth and Patrick are destined to fall in love, there's no real romantic tension or, for that matter, believable affection between them. Too many principal characters and too little interaction between the hero and heroine keep this trite fairytale from taking wing. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/08/2002
Release date: 08/01/2002
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