Master trader Er Thom knows the local custom of Liaden is to be matched with a proper bride and provide his prominent clan Korval with an heir. Yet his heart is immersed in another universe, influenced by another culture, and lost to a woman not of his world. And to take a Terran wife, such as scholar Anne Davis, is to risk his honor and reputation. But when he discovers that their brief encounter years before has resulted in the birth of a child, even more is at stake than anyone imagined. Now an interstellar scandal has erupted, a bitter war between two families--galaxies apart--has begun, and the only hope for Er Thom and Anne is a sacrifice neither is prepared to make. . . .