Another feathery period romance, set in medieval England, by the author of Mistress, (1994) and some 15 other period poufs (Quick is also Jayne Ann Krentz). Though not as witty as her others (more contentious posturing than quipping), Quick's latest cheerfully plays upon a beloved familiar formula: Brooding, titled male, fighting fierce storms within, is yoked with feisty female who ultimately conquers while surrendering. Here, Lady Alice, despising her uncle who snatched away the inheritance of her younger brother Benedict, is given the task of confronting a furious intruder -- Hugh the Relentless, whose eyes are ""brilliant with a remorseless intelligence"" and who dresses in ""unrelenting black."" Alice is forced to tell Hugh that what he seeks -- a green crystal that represents his hold on his newly regained ancestral keep of Scarcliffe -- is not at her uncle's manor. This brave woman, heiress to her dead mother's knowledge of medicinal healing, student of natural history, and toweringly independent, is also an amateur sleuth. What develops, then, is a bargain between Hugh the Furious and Alice the Determined: She will find the green crystal if Hugh will see to her brother's future and provide Alice herself with a dowry so that she can enter a convent and devote her life to study. Hugh agrees but insists on having the bride to go with the dowry; only a year after betrothal will there be freedom. And so off the two ride with Benedict to Scarcliffe. Before long, Alice joins in reviving the keep, the land, and its people, then brings about the end of a deadly feud; meanwhile, there's a mysterious murder in hidden caves; a rendezvous with a villain, a last-minute rescue (after the ogre tells all), a swell surprise from the green crystal -- and, of course, along the way love that flutters the bed canopy more than once. Old stuff done well. Think castle keeps, jousting, and lots of ""my lord""-ing.