Prudence Lancaster needs inspiration for her second Gothic novel. As she gazes out of her cottage window at Wolfinger Abbey, she wants nothing more than to get inside the remarkable home and explore. Her dreams look like they will come true when James Penhurst, the Earl of Ravenscar's brother, comes home.

Before Pru can wrangle an invitation, James disappears and his brother Sebastian is rumored to have killed him. When Sebastian confronts Pru and her sister, they deny knowing anything about James' whereabouts. Pru cannot believe that Sebastian could be guilty.

After the enormous success of her book, Pru goes to London where she hears rumors that she has modeled the villain after Ravenscar. Pru rushes to Sebastian's defense. Meanwhile he cannot get the little authoress out of his mind. He recognizes the palpable attraction between them.

Pru agrees to help Sebastian find the truth and clear his name. They return to Wolfinger Abby where they find not only clues to James' disappearance, but a mutual passion. Then Pru's sister Phoebe, elopes and when she and Sebastian go after the newlyweds, they are in for a surprise.

THE DEVIL EARL is a wonderfully written romance, complete with passion, love, mystery and a terrific cast of characters. Innocence and sophistication combine to make a perfect match. It is a pleasure to read such a well-written and carefully planned romance. SENSUAL (May, 400 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Evelyn Feiner