Romeo and Juliet meets Gone With the Wind--in this rambling 17th-century saga of a young woman's valiant attempts to save her family's mansion from the greedy Puritans, by the author of To Dance with Kings (1988) and This Shining Land (1985). When Julia Pallister was born, her grandmother, Katherine, an ex-lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, placed a teardrop pearl in her tiny hand. The pearl, given to Katherine by the Queen herself, is long forgotten as Julia grows up; but the fiery young girl retains a vision of a vague, glowing light that she interprets as the destiny for which she must strive. Trouble arises, however, when Julia's Royalist father is killed by his neighbor and Puritan archenemy, Colonel Warrender, during an abortive attempt to replace fugitive King Charles on the throne. Julia's only brother is then forced to flee the country, leaving Julia, her mother, and grandmother undefended as Sotherleigh, their beloved country estate, is handed over to a nasty, fish-eyed Puritan, Makepeace Walker. Rather than see her family thrown out into the street, Julia's mother marries this unpleasant man, who soon manages to drive her insane. Meanwhile, Colonel Warrender's rakish son, Adam, begins courting Julia, who spurns his amorous advances in favor of the distant young Christopher Wren. Julia and Adam's love-hate relationship builds as he repeatedly proposes and Julia haughtily refuses until--realizing that Wren doesn't love her and simultaneously learning of Adam's secret efforts to save her estate--she gives in. The Great Plague and the Fire of London rage in the background as Julia and Adam engage in a hauntingly familiar oversexed, cripplingly deceitful marriage. In this case, however, love conquers all, and those still living live happily ever after. Historically interesting, if rather stilted, romance.