1370. Oswald de Lacy was not always Lord of the Manor, or even meant to be. The third son, he was sent off to become a novice monk.
Now, with winter closing in on Somershill, his wife flirting with their houseguest, his sister sniping from the sidelines and his mother still ruling his life even from her deathbed, Oswald is forced to confront the secret that has haunted him ever since those days in the monastery.
1349. Sent to gather herbs in the forest by his tutor, Brother Peter, 18-year-old Oswald encounters a terrified girl, who runs into the swollen river and drowns.
In her village, he discovers that she is only one of many poor young women who have disappeared, with no-one in authority caring enough to investigate.
Convinced the girls are dead, Oswald turns to the village women for help in finding the murderer – in particular to the beautiful Maud Woodstock, who provokes feelings in Oswald that no monk should entertain.