Fleeing a drunken, abusive husband, Josephine Wittaker arrives in Sienna without money and expecting the romantic dime-novel images of western life that compelled her to come West.

She must get a job to survive and she inveigles local rancher J.D. McCall into making her trail cook. Her only problem is that she's planned parties, meals for guests and dinners, but she has never cooked for strangers, much less eighteen hungry cowboys. But J.D.'s desperate. His cowboys are sick of his father's constant menu of creamed corn on toast. Ignoring his belief that women don't belong on the trail and his doubts that this lady can cook, he gives her a chance.

True to her past writing form, Stef Ann Holm creates an engaging love story about a woman seeking to transform her life and gain independence. The secondary characters, J.D.'s irascible father and the cowboys, add to the underlying humor of Josephine's thoroughly western adventure. SENSUAL (May, 353 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger