The third in Candace Robb’s Kate Clifford series, set in 1400 York, finds much has changed in Kate’s world. Kate, a widow who had been shackled by her late husband’s debts, has at last paid them off. She’s a happy mother to her wards – two of them her late husband’s illegitimate children – but she loves all three of her children, one of them saved from the streets of York, equally. Her household is a bustling and happy one.
As the book opens, a friend appears of her doorstep in a snowstorm, requesting shelter. Kate unthinkingly takes her in and only on reflection realizes the danger of taking in a woman who may be regarded at the worst as a traitor, at the least as a fugitive and corpse thief. The woman, Lady Kirkby, has witnessed the beheading of her husband during an uprising in nearby Cirencester.