LB. ENGLEZA England, 1158. Elsbeth longs for the quiet prayerful life of the convent. She has no desire to be a bride or a mother, no longing for the things of this world, but she is a woman and a woman must obey the will of men: king, father, husband, priest. Men rule her life. But if she can prove herself obedient enough, then she might trade obedience now for the convent later. It is this faint promise her father holds out to her when he arranges her marriage to Hugh of Jerusalem, and it is a hope Hugh holds out to her as their vows are said. Hugh, a golden knight from a golden land, tempts her to believe. Hugh must marry. It is the only way he can attain what he wants. He is a man of the Levant, a man from God’s own city. He will do all he can to keep Elsbeth from harm, yet he must get what he wants from her. Elsbeth, even on her knees in prayer, has no defenses against Hugh. This is a man determined to lead her into temptation. The spunky characterizations and sprightly pacing of Dain’s previous novel, To Burn, are absent here, but Dain delivers on other fronts, offering protagonists who will pique readers’ imaginations and an unconventional story line that plays out in 12th-century England. The first half of the novel moves like molasses as pious Elsbeth of Sunnandune, who longs for a quiet convent life, comes to terms with the fact that her calculating father has sold her in marriage to gorgeous and glib Hugh of Jerusalem. For his own purposes, Hugh is determined to make the marriage work, but Elsbeth is just as determined to prove that she’s an unfit wife. Their battle of wills and words makes up the bulk of the novel and quickly grows tedious, but an element of intrigue spices up the final half, as do some tantalizing near-love scenes. The book’s religious overtones may put off some readers and others will find themselves gnashing their teeth over Hugh’s arrogance (" He had not yet met steel that he could not best, and so it was with the steely heart of his wife. Or would be" ). However, Dain succeeds in capturing the atmosphere of the period and in creating protagonists whose fears, dreams and temperaments reflect the era.