In the spin-off to her last novel, His Betrothed, Callen reintroduces readers to Sir Alexander Thornton. With his masquerade as his twin brother over, Alex has lots of time on his hands. To fill it, he accepts a wager: steal a kiss from beautiful, innocent Blythe Prescott. But to do so, he must get past her older sister, Emmaline.
Long ago, Emmaline gave up her dreams of marriage. She cares for her sister and wants to help Blythe make the perfect match. She knows Alex is not that man. Though she appears cold and passionless, Alex sees Em's soft and romantic side. While he still wants to win his bet, he vows to unleash Emmaline's inner fire.
This delightful romp is fun and sexy, especially when Alex allows Emmaline to follow him to all manner of "unsuitable" places, like bear baits and taverns. Yet it also has a poignancy that may bring a tear or two to your eyes. Ms. Callen paints a colorful and accurate portrait of the era, complete with language, social mores and small historical details, that enriche her vibrant story. SENSUAL (May, 380 pp., $5.99)