The final installment in Margaret
of Ashbury's tale is as delightfully
wry and clever as the previous volumes. Margaret, with her 21st-century
sensibilities, is a winning heroine,
and watching as she outsmarts her
wily father-in-law is a joy. Riley's
legion of fans will relish her latest,
even though they must bid adieu to
a most memorable heroine.

After ransoming her husband, from his French captors, Margaret settles down to enjoy her family, until her irascible father-in-law, Hubert de Viliers, appears on her doorstep, fresh from Edward III's French campaign, and in need of funds. He wants to mortgage Margaret's holdings to pay legal fees incurred in his battle to reclaim a portion of the Viliers' land that borders an abbey.

Unwilling to sacrifice her daughter's dowry, Margaret insists upon viewing the property in hopes of solving the dispute. Before leaving, she asks her friend to forge the documents Hubert requires. Margaret is quickly embroiled in the villagers' problems, including a murder. It's rumored that an ancient creature inhabits a pond on the disputed land and that this is the water spirit who committed the murder. Margaret faces down the demon when her son's life is endangered. (Three Rivers, Dec., 352 pp., $13.95)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin