Leaving America and her life as a circus performer to comply with her estranged father's wishes is difficult for Kira Sergenkove. But she has no choice. She will take her place as her father's heir for one year and then be free to start a circus of her own.

But there are many secrets in her father's home, dark secrets that will come to haunt Kira as she embarks on her new life as Lady Kira.

For one, there's her demanding Aunt Aleece, whose only child died under mysterious circumstances; there's her father, Nicholas Scottney, at once almost loving and then very cold and calculating; most enigmatic of all, there's Damien Sharpe, the man suspected of killing her cousin.

From the instant that Kira meets Damien, she is struck by his loneliness and feels compassion for his troubled soul. Her sympathy drives her to seek him out and try and heal the wounds that only she can truly understand.

Kira reluctantly complies with her father's wishes, never truly becoming a lady, but acting as one as it has its rewards. She still has her pet chimp, Fred, and finds a neglected menagerie filled with sick and dying animals that somehow find a way to disrupt a ball.

Without Damien's help, Kira would be lost, and though he may be the devil in disguise, she is determined to help clear his name and heal his tormented heart. But that vow leads her into danger when another murder is committed and Damien is accused of the crime.

Annee Carter weaves a compelling story filled with unusual characters into a traditional Gothic plotline. Her fresh voice and special blend of sensuality breath new life into this classic genre. Ms. Carter continues to grow as a writer of power and passion. SENSUAL (Mar., 375 p., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin