The Irish troubles, with all their complex and divisive issues, are a powerful backdrop for this fiercely emotional and romantic tale. Jeanette Baker has a rare gift which allows her to blend genres with gracious ease.

A top-flight London lawyer and the widow of another well-respected lawyer, Lady Meghann McCarthy Sutton has left the pain and poverty of Belfast far behind -- that is, until desperate mother Annie Devlin calls in an old debt. When she was a child, Meghann's family was slaughtered during the infamous Bloody Sunday massacre. Meghann would have died if she hadn't been rescued by a teenaged boy named Michael Devlin.

The Devlins took in the orphaned girl and made her part of the family. Meghann fell deeply in love with the fiery Michael, but his involvement with the IRA and Sinn Fein frightened her. Reluctantly, Meghann rejected his marriage proposal and entered university in England.

Now Michael stands accused of murdering Labor Party leader James Killingsworth. Unless Meghann defends him, he doesn't stand a chance. With an imprisoned Michael starving to death in "The Maze," the only way Meghann can keep her client alive until the trial is to break him out of prison. Meghann gets unexpected help from a mysterious young woman calling herself Nuala O'Donnell of Tirconnaill. Meghann discovers that Nuala is a spirit come forward in time to help her descendants. Nuala shares with Meghann visions of her own life as the wife of one of the last Catholic Earls of Ulster.

As always, politics and justice make strange bedfellows and Meghann begins to wonder exactly who is making Michael the scapegoat for their own political gain. Even if she can find out who, can she ever find the proof?

(Mar., 372 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith