In this focused novel about Cole McGuire, the son of a whore, and Rebecca Sinclair, daughter of the towns wealthiest family, Mary Burton reveals the subtle social interplay of emotional need and social factors in the formation of family.

At the close of his military career, Cole returns to White Stone, (once a roaring mining camp), when he receives a letter from Lilya woman he had slept with in despair after Rebecca married anotherthat she had conceived a child during that visit.

Rebecca, now a widow and pregnant herself, takes the pregnant Lily into her home. Rebecca gives birth to a stillborn child. When Lily dies in childbirth, Rebecca takes her baby under her wing.

When Cole returns, Rebecca lies to him, saying both Lily and the baby died. The town, who remembers Cole as a young troublemaker, helps Rebecca keep up the pretense. She soon wants to tell the man shes fallen in love with that the child he thinks is her son is actually his, but fears she will lose both of them. The problem intensifies when Cole decides to reopen the mine and save whats left of the dying town.

A heart-touching romance about love, loss and the realities of family. In her finely crafted historical, Mary Burton manages to vibrate some sensitive and intense modern issues. SensuAL (Jun., 352 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger