Set against the developing postCivil War women's movement, a time when interest in female education or voting often inspired violence, Pat Pritchard's story lacks the strong feminist perspective needed to fulfill its dramatic promise.

The author focuses on the romance between storekeeper Lucy Thomas and a newspaper editor, as well as a secondary romance between schoolteacher Melanie Symthe and her budding love for the town pastor. Neither offer much conflict. I had hopes that the third young woman, Cora Lawford, would embody a feminist perspective; instead, she exhibits an incomprehensible eagerness to turn 21 in an era when no age represented real adult freedom for women.

This disappointment aside, the novel succeeds as a well-written, traditional romance with a historic background interesting enough for light reading. SENSUAL (Aug., $5.99, 352 pp.)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger