In this second novel in what promises to be a series about the de Burgh brothers of Taming the Wolf, the King has ordered that one of the remaining unmarried de Burgh knights marry the daughter of Dunstan's vanquished Scottish enemy Fitzhugh. Quiet, scholarly Geoffrey draws the short straw and vows to succeed in his mission to bring peace to the border between medieval Scotland and England, even if he must sacrifice happiness by marrying a reputedly monstrous woman who murdered her first husband.

Elene Fitzhugh never combs her tangled hair, glowers and yells at everyone. She has survived in an abusive environment by wildly damning every man as untrustworthy and fostering her reputation as a she-devil. She will marry a de Burgh, but only because the king won't tolerate further defiance from her.

Geoffrey's gentle voice, tolerance and honor win little respect and less cooperation from his wife or the inhabitants of her lands. However, Elene, rather than use one of her many knives on him, decides to guard her ingratiating husband's defenseless back. She tells herself this is merely because Geoffrey's better than whomever the King might make her marry next time.

The Wolf and his beloved Lady Marion appear again, adding interest to Deborah Simmon's energetic, highly charged love story about an abused woman restored through the patient kindness and love of a strong man. SENSUAL. (Feb., 263 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger