All Stephen Kirton wants is marriage to a respectable young woman. All Belle Winston wants is to be quit of her betrothal. A chance meeting at a house party, too much brandy, a kiss, a ruined reputation and the possibility of a scandal give them the opportunity to each get what they desire.
In a happily inebriated state, Stephen asks Belle to marry him. Figuring it's better than being ruined, and after one kiss, she's almost ready to agree, but in the light of day Belle decides to run off on her own. Once Stephen learns of her flight, he goes after her and that's the start of their adventures.
They are almost murdered by a thieving innkeeper and his wife before arriving at Belle's friend's home in York, and then Stephen must rescue Belle from a band of Scottish reivers all before they can be married "over the anvil." Once married they think their adventures are over, but there are a few surprises in store for them yet.
Stephen and Belle are more like a couple of kids on a lark than adults, and that's the charm of this sweet, delightful tale of young love made even more enjoyable by the interjection of Belle's letters to her mother throughout. However, readers looking for a more mature, emotionally deeper love story had best seek their entertainment elsewhere. SENSUAL (Apr. 350 pp., $5.99)