Maresa Fairweathers mother dies while giving birth to her, leaving her grieving father to care for four daughters and an infant, but he could not face his fifth daughter, the one who caused his wifes death. As she grew up, Maresa was left to run wild on the Yorkshire moors with her champion and best friend Percy Bronwell.

Their friendship has remained strong through all of Maresas scandalous broken engagements and escapades. Realizing he can never win her love, Percy enlists in the Royal Navy.

Following another broken engagement, Maresa is sent to Italy to let the gossip die down. But even there she manages to court scandal and another disastrous betrothal.

Hearing word of her latest scandal, Percy comes to the rescue and proposes marriage. After he returns to his crew and Maresa learns Percys life is in danger, she realizes her feelings about their relationship and risks all for him.

Though there is nothing truly new in the plot of THE FIFTH DAUGHTER, Maresas growth from spoiled, self-centered child to a strong woman proves intriguing. How Ms. Coffman manages to take an unlikable character and turn her into a heroine is a testament to her talents as a writer.

However, readers seeking the heated, reckless passion and wildly exhilarating adventures of Ms. Coffmans earlier novels will find more character introspection here and a slower pace. SENSUAL (Dec., 436 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin