Claire Delacroix, Author . Warner $6.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-446-61110-7

An unconventional heroine and a mystery about forged religious relics lend spice to this beguiling medieval romance from Delacroix, author of the Bride Quest series (The Beauty, etc.). Ysabella is an illiterate peasant living in near poverty with her sister and young brother. The family is reviled by the town for aspiring above its station—five years earlier, impetuous Ysabella married Merlyn Lammergeier, the lord of the manor, only to leave him in a fortnight. While the town assumes she's been cast off, the truth is she refused to live with a man who earned his fortune selling false relics to wealthy lords. Merlyn left Ravensmuir shortly thereafter but has now returned to reclaim his birthright and his bride. When he is attacked and left for dead, Ysabella agrees to play the grieving widow to help discover the assailant. Delacroix does a fine job of integrating historical detail into her plot; Ysabella's illiteracy, for example, is not merely mentioned, but used as a source of conflict between the couple. The story is told in the first person from Ysabella's point of view, which lends it an air of oral history, and the details of the relic trade are engrossing. Though a few plot twists are predictable, readers will treasure this rich and compulsively readable tale. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1349-3
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-9878399-6-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-5047-6162-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-5047-6161-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-5047-6168-0
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