As a Saxon noblewoman, Helena adopts the identity of a Norman woman whose family supports Prince John in his quest to wrest the throne from his brother, Richard the Lionhearted. She hopes her masquerade will lead her to the men who killed her father, the Earl of Wessex.

Only one man suspects the truth about Helena's masquerade: Stephan, Count of Dinan, known as the Black Baron. Like Helena, he is an outcast. Once Richard's loyal man, he was sent from the King by mysterious circumstances. Now he stands in the shadows watching as John plots to seize power. Stephan and Helena form a fragile alliance that turns into something deeper and more dangerous as they navigate a labyrinth of lies and deceit.

From Prince John's corrupt court to Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest hideaway, this well-crafted debut breathes life into historical and fictional personages with a richly drawn backdrop, historical accuracy, an intriguing plot enhanced by a cast of fascinating characters and a mystery. Though the pacing flags occasionally, history buffs will be completely immersed. SENSUAL (Apr., 310 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin