Elizabeth of Bredon is accompanied to the convent of St. Anne's by a band of friars who are escorting King John's illegitimate son, William Fitzroy, to the shrine as penance for his acts of violence.
William is nothing like the rumors that claim he's ruthless. Elizabeth is drawn to the prince, who appears kind and gentle yet filled with an underlying sadness.
What she doesn't know is that Sir Adrian has taken a vow to protect the prince as part of his own penance. He allows Elizabeth to believe he's the prince while William assumes the role of a friar to avoid an assassination attempt.
Elizabeth tempts Adrian to break his vow, and when the prince's deception is revealed Adrian must chose between life as a friar or his love for Elizabeth.
Stuart writes a powerful tale that captures the essence of the era. She lures readers into the game of duplicity played by William and Adrian, then pulls them tighter into her web, by exploring all her characters' deep-seated emotions, until they are captivated to the very end. (Aug., 380 pp., $6.50)