When they were children, Selena, the falconer's daughter, saved the life of young John Markley, the Duke of Canby. He vows to repay the debt. But when he asks her to be his mistress and she refuses, he leaves to serve the Crown as the spy known as the Falcon. Years later, John learns that Selena has been accused of murder--his! In a daring rescue, John saves Selena, first from Newgate and then from the hangman's noose.

John's reappearance throws everything into an uproar--his mother's scheme to take control, his brother's plan to become duke and Selena's hope of liv- ing a quiet life raising birds of prey.

Selena has loved John forever, but as a servant's daughter, she has nothing to offer him. Now that he's back and they rekindle their youthful passion, others plot against them, and the demons of the past jeopardize their future.

Birdsell's novel that entwines elements of a spy thriller, a gothic suspense and a love story to more than satisfy readers. Though some events are predictable, this book is compelling because of the intelligent characters and their clear motivations and the fast-paced plot. SENSUAL (Oct., 300 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin