Autumn 1155, England.
She was a willing wife. Nicolaa had been married four times before; she knew how to welcome a stranger into her bed, to give him her lands, her house, and her body. But she had also learned how to keep herself separate, to keep her heart intact. All she had to do was wait. This latest husband of hers, this Rowland the Dark, would leave her as each of her husbands had before him.
He did not want a wife. Rowland had married once, and still loved that long ago wife; he had no wish to marry again because no one could replace the wife of his heart. Yet when a king orders a man to wed, he weds when and to whom he is told. So it was that Rowland and Nicolaa found themselves married.
Nicolaa was a wife most willing and Rowland had no wish to hurt her by rejecting her. He would deal gently with her, showing her tenderness where her other husbands had shown only selfish self-interest.
What Nicolaa is unprepared for is a husband who intends to stay, who plans to insert himself into her life and try to find a way into her heart. Her heart will remain untouched; it must. A woman who has had five husbands knows one thing about men: they do not stay and they do not care.