Soldiers returning from the war with Napoleon are starving, and Philip Moresby, Earl of Chadwick, is desperate to convince an older member of the peerage to vote for his proposed relief bill by finding the mans daughter, long missing in France.

Upon investigation, he finds that the real daughter and her mother have died. Philip convinces Margaret Abney to substitute for the daughter in exchange for the release of her ailing cousin from prison.

The widower Philip assumes that the beautiful Margaret is the mistress of a man she calls her cousin and believes that she, like his beautiful late wife, is faithless and greedy.

Philip demands that Margaret marry him, in part so she can free him from the slew of matchmakers who are pursuing him. Once shes helped him secure votes in the House of Lords for his soldiers relief bill, hell deposit her at his country estate and ignore her.

Margaret agrees to his plan. She gets her cousin out of prison, returns to England, and gains the chance to avenge her mother against the baron who had left them both penniless and humiliated. Margaret assumes that Philips intentions are as dishonorable as her fathers once were.

With a wealth of intrigue, well-drawn secondary characters and sexual tension enhanced by Jane Austen-style banter, Judith McWilliams constructs a winning Regency periodthough not Regency genreromance. SENSUAL (Jan., 351 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger