A likable, attractively packaged tale of true love's circuitous course among the nobility and gentry of Wales and England during the reign of Charles I. Wales-born Angharad adores her cousin Richard, an ambitious and adventurous student-mariner-inventor who has been in and out of court circles hither and von. But Angharad, alas, is wed to pleasant, dull Thomas Elderbourne, youngest son of the powerful Earl of Sedgwick. They're all a civil and sensible lot (although the Sedgwicks' family tree has a lemon or two, and Thomas' dwarf sister Cecilia is often rightfully hostile), but they're apparently not immune to a Welsh witch's prophecy--which determines the subsequent goings-on. Thomas becomes Earl after his brother's sudden death, and Countess Angharad bears a son--but possibly not by Thomas, since in a demented rage after discovering Thomas in bed with the despicable man Clayton, Angharad did fling herself into the arms of stalwart Captain Hawkhurst. And later, due to Clayton's false witness, poor Thomas is executed as a traitor and poisoner of his brother. True-love Richard then returns to exiled Angharad, but their happiness is threatened by the mad sister-in-law who killed Richard's respected but unloved wife. Will Angharad have what it takes to dispatch this crazed female? . . . In spite of all the tumult, Duell lows her generally companionable characters space to converse and cogitate without the vapors or histrionics; the scenery is soothing; there are bits about the family of Charles I, the cloth trade, 17th-century drainage, and ship-salvage machinery; and Angharad's a pleasant heroine. All in all, an agreeable first in a projected series.