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THE BRIDE THIEF is a tender story of a nobleman who steals away one woman while ostensibly courting another. Justin Baldwin is commanded to marry Evelyn, but finds that he loves her cousin, Isabella, virtually on sight.

Rather than be forced into marriage with a calculating, selfish beauty, he kidnaps the gentle, kind Isabella. Evelyn and her father create no end of havoc, trying to recover Isabella.

Isabelle has a head for business and has made her uncle a wealthy man, while she and her younger brother had been kept in servitude. The evil relatives plot against Isabelle and her brother with no one but Justin to protect them.

Ms. Paul has created a wonderful cast of characters, from the kind and gentle hero whose generosity costs him and his family so dearly to the evil cousin who hides such cruelty behind a beautiful face. SWEET (July, 350 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Michell Phifer