Belle, author of a trilogy of tomes concerning love in the 1600's (Alethea, 1985; etc.), returns to her century of choice in this historical romance about a stalwart Puritan housewife--the Lady Silence St. Barbe--who labors valiantly to secure her hearth and home as a gaggle of Royalist cavaliers bivouac there during the English Civil War. M'lady Silence is 29 as the story begins, sole support and protector of her brood of children--some of whom, like rebellious Rachel, are the product of her husband's first marriage. Abandoned when her husband goes off to fight for Cromwell, forced also to contend with her harping crone of a mother-in-law and insolent servants, Silence cleaves to a simple motto: ""Make, do, mend."" It comes in handy when a brigade of raucous King's cavalrymen takes over Wintercombe Manor, led by a veritable devil named Colonel Ridgeley. However, Ridgeley's captain, Nick Hellier, takes pity on Silence, championing her cause when the Colonel threatens to lay waste to a precious orchard, helping young Rachel escape after she steals Ridgeley's pistol, offering Silence gifts--soft leather gauntlets, a white puppy, and suchlike tokens of love. Despite herself, Silence returns his affection, even as the Royalists lose ground all over the West Country, and eventually Wintercombe is delivered from the wars. So Nick and Silence bid each other farewell, their lives deepened--if bittersweetly. A comfy, placid tale whose most exciting adventures are all domestic, and really not all that exciting.