Caught dancing barefoot in the moonlit woods, dressed only in her shift, Elizabeth Penshurst is considered by decent folk to be notorious and disgraced. Sent by her father, a reverend, to serve penance with a cousin in Hernewood, Lizzie sets her thoughts on becoming the perfectly demure and reserved young woman any suitor would want. But evil haunts the woods of Hernewood Abbey. As the Druid festival of Beltane approaches, a sinister cult seeks a virgin sacrifice. Their intended victim: Lizzie. Her only defender and the man likely to relieve her of her dangerous maidenhood is the mysterious Gabriel, the Dark Man, a fellow outcast and scholar of Druidism. The forest calls to them both. Their irresistible attraction, both mystical and bawdy, may be the only force more powerful than the cult s dark purpose.