A novel of marriage and passion takes its color and picaresque adventure from its period setting. For Avys Winter, in spite of her wedded life with Piers, is unable when Hal Brandon returns to resist her love for him, escapes the imprisonment Piers imposes when he learns the truth of her bawdry, and makes her way to London. There she learns Brandon is in the debtor's jail and is the cause of his murder as he buys his freedom to join her. She is rescued by Adam Piper and becomes his thrall in underworld thievery and gambling until she recognizes his weaknesses and breaks away to find that Piers, after the death of one of their daughters, the madness of his bastard brothers and the torments of his own conscience, has been seeking her to ask forgiveness and another chance. The worlds of country, city and vice in 16th century terms overlay this story of a woman -- for women-and add more melodramatic touches to its problems.