Another of Ashfield's strenuously plotted period romances--with mistaken identities and misread signals centered in England's Epping forest, favorite haunt for 18th-century highwaymen. Gerald and Blanche, the Duke and Duchess of Kirkdale, adore each other--but since Blanche can have no more children and wants to free Gerald, she banishes him from the boudoir and pretends to have lovers. Meanwhile, their son Alastair, Marquis of Lingard, has accepted a challenge from a peer that he can't do a stint as a highwayman in Epping Forest: he sacks and pillages, giving his loot to the church. And, also meanwhile, Lady Anne Lydford, recently jilted daughter of the Earl of Lomax, is off to a ball with her aunt and with pretty young Gemma Murray--when they're accosted by a real highwayman: Sir Neil Vivian ""of impeccable pedigree fallen on hard times."" Neil and Gem are stunned with mutual adoration, and off they go. Pretty soon Anne is messing about the forest disguised, looking for Gem, while Lingard is attempting to catch up with the spy his father has sent to keep an eye on him (none other than Neil). Lingard and Anne meet, each assuming the other is a true-blue highwayperson; they too are sandbagged by love. And then the plot thickens to noodle pudding with a ring and verbal confusion (""Gem"" vs. ""gem"")--till all the lovers (including Gerald and Blanche) engage in a grand straightening-out. Romance in a forest--with a minimum of enchantment.