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To open up a novel by Bertrice Small is to surrender to the deepest longings of the heart. In her sensational bestsellers, she sweeps us to the far corners of the globe and into the most sensual places of desire. In The Innocent, she takes us to the wild Welsh borderlands of England, where a young beauty ready to embrace her religious vows becomes the pawn of desperate men. . . . Deceptively fragile-looking, Eleanore of Ashlin had promised her life to God . . . until fate intervened. With her brother's untimely death, Eleanoreknown as Elf to those who love herbecomes the heiress of an estate vital to England's defenses. She is ordered by royal command to wed one of the king's knights rather than take her final vows. With resistant heart, but ever obedient to King Stephen's will, she complies.Ranulf de Glandeville is all too aware that his innocent bride wants no man; yet his patience, gentle hand, and growing love for his spirited young wife soon awaken Eleanore to passions she never knew, or desired . . . until now.But their love is not secure from the wicked schemes of an evil woman who hates Eleanore with all her black heartand she will seek to destroy the innocent in a depraved plot that will put Eleanore's life in jeopardy and her faith in love to its greatest test. . . .