Ms. Hawkins has written a wonderful first novel about a spinster reformer, who chairs the Society for Wayward Women, and her rake of a husband, who drinks, gambles and womanizes his way through society.

According to the terms of his grandfathers will, Alec MacLean, Viscount Hunterston, must marry the daughter of the Earl of Covington. Due to a mix-up in the carriage, instead of spiriting away the beautiful, but sharp-tongued Therese, he abducts her cousin, Julia Frant.

Luckily for Alec, Julias father was also briefly the Earl of Covington. Unfortunately, the terms of the will stipulate that he must be married and scandal-free for one year.

While even roguish Alec believes he can avoid his own inclinations to excess, he isnt sure that prim Julia, with her charity for reformed prostitutes, will be able to keep them out of hot water.

This romance is both tender and humorous with well-drawn secondary characters such as the bumbling nephew, Alecs meddling servants, and even Alecs nefarious cousin, Nick, who will stop at nothing to see Alec discredited so he can inherit the fortune. Ms. Hawkins has created a superb tale and is a new talent to watch out for. SENSUAL (Apr., 380 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Michell Phifer