Months before she is to take her final vows, nun-in-training Nell de Bonville is summoned home to attend the funeral of her sister, Sybilla. Thinking she will return to the Convent of St. Cecelia afterward, Nell soon learns that her father, the Earl of Lincoln, has other plans. She is to marry Sybilla's betrothed, Roger de Roche, grandson of the powerful Earl of Wiltshire. The marriage will unite two great houses, and their demesnes will stand together in this time of possible civil war.

Nell is young, innocent and knows nothing of the world or the ways of men. But Roger is a gentle husband and waits until she comes to him before he takes his husbandly rights. Nell finds passion in her husband's arms and contentment in her duties as lady of the keep.

But with war looming, she and Roger face many challenges. It will put Roger and a father he thought dead on opposing sides and into a fierce battle for the right to hold the Earl of Wiltshire title.

Wolf's nice overview of the battle between Stephen and the Empress Mathild adds an accurate touch to a medieval love story. The inspirational overtures help to compensate for characterization and conflict than is less deep than Wolf's usual style. SENSUAL (Aug., 375 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Joan Hammond