In this medieval romance, Deborah Hale follows the fortunes of former mercenary Con ap Ifan who returns to his Welsh homeland as an agent of the Empress Maud. Con was an appealing secondary character in The Elusive Bride, but he's the one who's elusive in this novel.

Thirteen years ago, Enid versch Blethyn, desperately in love with Con, tried to keep him home by offering him a night of passion. Special circumstances lead Con to leave the next morning, unaware of the unmarried Enid's need for him to stay. Now she's determined to arrange her second marriage herself and make sure things benefit her children. But Enid must deal with rekindled passion and with the threat of Con's wandering ways to the safety of her son, the secret baby Con sired.

The secret baby plot device works wonderfully well in Hale's medieval story, mingling a dash of reality with accents of Welsh folklore. This is a pure pleasure to read. SENSUAL (Aug., 300 pp., $5.25)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger