This adroit novel lightly suffers a plot that goes from murder mystery to family story in presenting liberated heroine Willow Hastings, a female Pinkerton agent, and Brandt Donovan of Boston, an investigator for the Union Pacific Railroad.

The two first meet when Willow, disguised as a man, is trying to capture her suspect and Brandt, mistaking her for the predator, rescues the culprit.

At their next meeting, they become unwilling partners to solve the murder of a Pinkerton agent. Willow resists the partnership because Brandt reveals his strong belief that she should play a more traditional womans role. Brandt is quickly attracted to Willow and just as instantly protective of her, then he becomes determined to will her heart and her hand in marriage.

As their investigation of serial murders draws to its close, Willow and Brandt deal with the very different situation presented by her commitment to her brother.

Never mind the plot problem or the few abrupt chapter transitions. The sexual tension soars and these bantering characters could easily support a period detective series. SENSUAL (Jan., 310 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Evelyn Feiner