The hero of this book, Nicholas Strangefellow, is a court jester for Henry II. But this is an Anne Stuart book, so we soon find out that he is also an secret agent for the king, with secrets of his own and ambitions for the future. He is also quite the ladies' man, and is a favorite of the king's sister.
He is sent by Henry to Fortham Castle to steal the Chalice of St. Hugelina, a religious relic that the king covets, under the guise of being the "entertainment" for the Earl of Fortham's upcoming wedding. Along the way Nicholas meets Julianna of Moncrieff, who is the daughter of the earl's bride. Julianna is a mixture of toughness and kindness, and of innocence and warinesss that fascinates Nicholas, and he immediately embarks on a course of seduction of the wary widow. For her part, Julianna has no desire to married again, after being married off as a child to an old, abusive husband. She resists Nicholas, but is secretly falling under his spell.
At Fortham, intrigue is heavy as various characters try to trip each other to get to the relic. There's an evil abbot, a priest, a ruthless teenage assassin, the powerful earl himself, the cunning Nicholas and his servant Bogo. Julianna keeps up a tough shell, but she's no match for Nicholas's seductive charms. Nicholas thinks he's got everything under control; he thinks he's not falling desperately in love with Julianna, and he thinks of himself as a scoundrel with no future. Being proven wrong has never been this crazy and sweet.
This report prepared by Casey