In 1139, Magdalene la Batarde runs a bawdy house from the Old priory Guest House, which is under the protection of the Bishop of Winchester.

One night, a messenger carrying a papal communication is tricked into visiting the Guest House; still, he likes the prospect of a night there. The next day, when his murdered body is found but the message sack isnt, Magdalene tries to find the message and prepare the girls alibis.

The Bishop of Winchester sends his most-trusted man, Sir Bellamy of Itchen. The attraction between Bell and Magdalene is immediate, but both have an investigation to carry out.

They find out that the message was of vital importance to England, and that they are not alone in their search for it. The Guest House and their own futures are at stake as Magdalene and Bell strive to find the truth behind the slaying.

Roberta Gellis, a queen of historical romance, weaves a magical tapestry of history, murder and passion in A Mortal Bane. Magdalenes courage and warmth make her a heroine we hope to encounter again. (Oct., 352 pp., $6.99—Hardcover published October 1999)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg