Anthony Elliot, Earl of Greyley, "inherits" five children, ranging in age from 4 to 11, from his deceased brother. The children are holy terrors encouraged in their pranks by the selfish Lady Putney, their manipulative grandmother.

Anthony decides that the only way to handle these hellions is to employ the "best governess in all of England," one Anna Thraxton, a former member of the haut ton, fallen on hard times. Anna has herself and her grandfather to support, while she longs for silks and jewels. More than these though, she longs for Anthony, who is engaged to another woman.

However, Anthony desires Anna and plans to make her his mistress. Anna refuses and sets about to transform the children as well as aid Anthony's shy fiancée. But Anthony soon realizes he cannot be happy with anyone but the fiery Anna.

Anna Thraxton puts Jane Eyre to shame as a lively, vivacious governess who knows her own mind and isn't afraid to share that opinion or a host of others. Ms. Hawkins has created a truly memorable character with Anna, for whom the earl can only hope to be worthy. I hated for the novel to end. SENSUAL (Aug., 380 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Michell Phifer