THE BARTERED BRIDE
On his way to England, wealthy American merchant Gavin Elliot stops on the Island of Maduri, where he witnesses an English woman being sold at a slave market. Compelled to rescue her, Gavin wins her freedom by completing a series of death-defying challenges that ends in their union.
He discovers that Alexandra Warren is a young widow who was traveling home to England from Australia when pirates attacked her ship, stole her daughter and sold Alexandra into slavery.
Gavin respects Alexandra's bravery and manages to locate her daughter. He'd gladly end their marriage, but then Alexandra discovers she's pregnant. They soon realize they share true feelings for each other and decide to build a life together, but an old enemy threatens to destroy all Gavin holds dear.
Mary Jo Putney can sweep readers into exotic locals as easily as into the ballrooms and courtrooms of Victorian England with all it's pomp and ceremony. I was captivated by the fascinating Eastern culture, swept up in Alexandra and Gavin's passionate romance. Though some readers may find a few events predictable, most will surely enjoy another finely crafted tale by a mistress of the genre. SENSUAL (May, 350 pp., $22.95)