cover image The Maiden's Heart

The Maiden's Heart

Julie Beard. Jove Books, $6.5 (333pp) ISBN 978-0-515-12515-3

In this romance set in 14th-century England by bestselling Beard (Romance of the Rose), impoverished knight-errant Sir Hugh de Greyhurst, nursing his latest jousting injury, makes an offer of marriage to Lady Margrete Trewsbury, whose ailing baron father wants her safely wed before he dies. Beautiful Margrete seems to be the answer to Sir Hugh's dreams--but is she really? The lady fancies convent life and wants a ""spiritual"" (in other words, celibate) union. Deeply in love, Hugh reluctantly agrees to Margrete's terms, setting the stage for major sexual tension, which Beard handles well. Complicating the story are Sir Ranulf de Blakely, a nasty villain determined to deflower Margrete and ruin Hugh; a worldly, avaricious bishop; and a mysterious, reputedly cursed, lost treasure. Beard's sometimes choppy writing coupled with an intrusive narrator are the only detractions from an otherwise engaging love story. (June)