Before dying of his wounds, Sir Roger Verity extracts a promise from an unlikely friend. The oath results in a fateful struggle. England is in the grip of civil war. Men such as Shadiz the Master are in demand. A Romany half-blood, a notorious corsair warlord, he has left the Mediterranean to become Prince Rupert's mercenary leader. Under the guise of war between royalists and parliamentarians, he intends to take Fylingdales Hall and Estate in the North-East of Yorkshire. The bastard son of Sir Richard of Fylingdale and his beloved Romany mistress, Shadiz was shunned after her death giving birth. In January 1644, when Verity is mortally wounded by parliamentarian troops allied to Fylingdales and his sixteen-year-old daughter is held prisoner, it becomes clear to Shadiz someone at the Hall is aware of his secret obsession with Catherine Verity. Becoming her guardian means he must guard her against his enemies at Fylingdales. He keeps her at his base, an ancient lodge deep in Stillingfleet Forest close to Whitby. Shadiz's followers includes Richard Massone, his half-brother. Richard is the legitimate owner of Fylingdales but has been denied his inheritance by his uncle Francois Lynette. His mother installed her younger brother as custodian after her husband's death at the hands of Shadiz. Despite appearances, Richard is at the lodge to extract revenge for the death of his father, and his sister. It is his fears for Catherine that causes increased friction between the half-brothers.
Shadiz realised when he gave his oath to her father that he would also have to protect Catherine against his dangerous attachment that began over six years earlier.
Catherine proves herself to be an exceptional young woman. While realising Shadiz's volatile nature, instinctively she does not feel threatened by him. Her remarkable healing skills have been taught to her by the strange Romany matriarch, who she discovers is Shadiz's grandmother, Mamma Petra. Her mature compassion is hers alone.
Despite the twelve years difference and their opposite natures, the attraction between Catherine and Shadiz, though for a long time she has no inkling of his feelings for her, grows. Eventually she learns of the Romany custom Shadiz instigated years earlier of twin pendants, his moonstone and her jet. Through this extraordinary link Catherine reveals a sixth sense that Shadiz finds increasingly hard to resist. Yet, he goes to extraordinary lengths to do so for Catherine's, or as he calls her Kore's, sake.