In 1885, Ellie Parrish struggles to save enough money waitressing to ransom her brothers from a brutal foster home. When her arm is broken in a fall at the train depot after visiting her brothers, Ellie meets Doctor Caleb Chaney.

Caleb studied at Harvard and then returned home to Newton, Kansas. He tries to convince the town that hes a good doctor but they remain suspicious of him, since his own wife died in childbirth.

Ellies inability to continue waitressing coincides with Calebs need for help with his infant son. For the first time in her life, Ellie stays in a comfortable house with plenty of food, and witnesses a happy family in visits to Calebs parents.

Caleb proposes because his son needs a mother, but secretly hopes for more. Ellie agrees so her brothers will have a fine home and schooling, but past emotional and physical trauma cause her to stipulate that they not share a bed or have any children.

In the temperate tracing of the enduring heroines dark childhood secrets against her brave present struggles, Cheryl St. John gives testimony to the blessings of family and to the healing powers of love. Sensual (Oct., 300 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger