Boston brahmin Stephen St. James returns home to find that the adjoining townhouse has been sold to a reclusive woman known as "the crazy widow Braxton."

Stephen meets Belle Braxton one evening when he finds her alone and incoherent in the Public Gardens and takes her to his home.

The sight of Belle sleeping in his four-poster awakens a torment of sensation in Stephen, but Belle manages to slip away without revealing her identity.

Stephen's life ceases to make sense once Belle enters it. One moment she is bright and happy, the next minute morose and fidgety. As her St. Valentine's Day birthday draws near, her behavior becomes increasingly erratic. But heaven help Stephen, because he has fallen in love with her.

When Stephen investigates Belle's past, what he uncovers astonishes him. Everything reaches a stunning climax when a surprise for Belle's birthday opens the floodgates.

Once you start BLUE WALTZ you will not be able to put it down. Ms. Lee offers intrigued readers chilling glimpses into Belle's tortured memory, mesmerizing them until the last satisfying page has been turned. SENSUAL (Jan., 342 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Frances L. Trainor