The only survivor of a shipwreck off Scotlands coast, Catherine Armstrong is rescued only to be taken hostage of the infamous Black Bastard of the Western Marches, Duncan Maxwell.
Duncans clan needs the money he will get for Catherines ransom. But she will not wait docilely until ransom is paid. In fact, she doesnt want her family to pay it!
With her no-nonsense ways, Catherine takes Duncans seven children in hand, overhauls his home and captures her captors heart. But Duncan is cursed; all women who love a Maxwell are doomed to die, and he certainly does not want Catherine to share their fate. She awakens long buried feelings about his mixed heritage and passions that he has kept well hidden.
Together they face the past, their fears, curses and a new and frightening enemy in a climax that will have you holding your breath in anticipation. Haywood Smith is a superior storyteller whose romances do not follow the ordinary path and whose skill is evident in each and every page of this intelligent and unique story. SENSUAL (Apr., 359 pp., $6.50)