Virginia Henley, Author . Signet $6.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-451-21345-7

Take two headstrong protagonists with divergent backgrounds and throw in a dash of mysticism and some weighty historical events, and you get this meaty, occasionally overwritten romance set in Elizabethan England. Beautiful but impulsive Catherine Spencer is a court maiden with an impressive pedigree and an even more impressive dowry, one that rough-edged Patrick Hepburn, a Scottish lord with the gift of prophetic visions, would like to get his hands on. When the marginalized king of Scotland implores Hepburn to envision the fate of the English crown after Queen Elizabeth's death, he sees Cat in his mind's eye, implicates her in his destiny and vows to apprehend and "tame" her, as his entrée into English nobility. The cultured Englishwoman and the blunt Scot inevitably clash at first sight, with Hepburn calling Cat a "spoiled little bitch" and Cat dubbing him an "offensive swine." Gradually, however, the sparring pair capitulate to lust and love. History is not just backdrop; invoked in key narrative threads, it keeps the plot taut and textured. Henley (Undone , etc.) succeeds in creating an atmosphere of impending social cataclysm that enhances the lovers' sense of urgency and embeds their English-Scottish union in a more epochal context. As twists of fate contrive to keep the two apart—intrigue, backstabbing, the bubonic plague—readers will hanker for them to live happily ever after. Agent, Jay Acton. (Nov. 2)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1446-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-9175-6
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-101-49811-8
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