Susan King, Author . Signet $6.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-451-20883-5

An ancient Scottish legend about a beautiful maiden asleep in a rose bower and the laird of Dundrennan, for whom true love can have tragic consequences, plays out in the second installment of King's Victorian-era trilogy (following Taming the Heiress). When Sir Aedan MacBride of Dundrennan discovers historic ruins on his land, he's forced to notify the National Museum. The museum sends prim, bespectacled antiquarian Christina Blackburn, the model from Sir Aedan's most treasured painting. Since the revealing portrait reminds Christina of unhappy times with her late husband, she buries herself in her quest to unearth the ruins, which may be remnants of an early Pictish civilization. The past has made Christina close her heart to love, and the legend has made Aedan leery of it, but still the two are drawn to each other. Before they can find happiness together, however, they must circumvent the briar legend and its supposed curse and outwit a stock villain. This romance starts more slowly than King's medieval-era novels, but her fluid prose and engaging central characters weave a subtle spell. Well-researched details about Victorian archaeology and a sensational, swashbuckling climax make this Sleeping Beauty story a treat for King's fans. (Sept. 2)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Paperback - 488 pages - 978-1-58724-612-8
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