Master storyteller Janelle Taylor sweeps readers from the warmth of a Richmond, Virginia, hotel/bordello to the hot Arizona desert in a Civil War romance that is a real treat for history buffs.

Since her aunt's death, Laura Adams Carlisle has run a small hotel and continued her aunt's work as a Union spy in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy. Laura's grace and charm make her irresistible to lonely soldiers who pass on information.

Confederate officer Jayce Storm has been sent to Richmond on a mission, one that might endanger Laura, but the instant the handsome rebel walks into the hotel, Laura loses her heart, though not her courage or loyalty.

Torn between her love for Jayce and her allegiance to the cause, Laura follows her heart, not compromising either side, until the day her father sends for her and she departs for Washington, D.C., leaving her heart behind.

When her father explains that they have been chosen to investigate a possible Confederate plot to steal a fortune in gold and silver and are to travel to Arizona, Laura is grateful for a chance to forget what Jayce might view as a betrayal. Little does she know that under the hot Arizona sun she will once more meet her love and that this time they will be working together.

Readers who can't get enough of Civil War history will devour DEFIANT HEARTS. Ms. Taylor has added large amounts of fascinating details about battles and intrigues of the war to the pages of this sweet tale of forbidden love and war. SENSUAL (May, 400 pp., $22.00)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin