Clayton Holland faces execution for refusing to kill during the Civil War. He's spared and returns to a small home town that hates him and shuns him as a coward.

No one hates Clay more than Meg Warner, who lost three brothers and her husband, Clay's best friend Kirk. She and the whole town of Cedar Grove, Texas, brand Clay a coward, resenting his survival. He forgives the townspeople their anger and hatred, because he shares the pain of their loss, a fact no one, not even Meg, understands. She wants Clay wounded to the heart as she and her family have been and devises a plan: she'll make Clay suffer by hiring him to carve a war memorial for the twenty-two men the town lost at Gettysburg.

But Meg doesn't foresee the effect of Clay's art and his greatness of heart on her emotions. The love he puts into creating the memorial generates love and its healing powers soon engulf her.

The beautiful prose, the author's depth of understanding for her characters and her absolutely consistent focus on theme raise this love story to the status of poetry. If you want to understand how love heals, how names carved in stone like those on the Vietnam War Memorial can uplift the wounded hearts of both survivors and war protesters, read this unforgettable book. SENSUAL(Feb., 336 pp., $5.50)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger