In 1892, Abigail Chadwick and her minister father are raising five orphans without much help from the people of Seneca Township in Ohio. When a cyclone hits Chadwick Farm, Abby loses her father and gains another orphan. She doesnt believe in the small miracles her father counted on, even when Sam Kelly offers to help her rebuild.
Sam, a teacher at the school where his mother worked as a maid, took the first job that would take him out of town after she died. He has no intention of claiming his inheritance from a father who never acknowledged his mother nor Sam, his illegitimate son.
The townspeople decide to show concern for the orphans by being outraged that Sam and Abby live on the same farm without being married. Sam keeps the children from being moved away by marrying Abby. Now he has a reason for claiming his inheritance, but the separation and the secrets of his past spark Abbys fears, presenting a barrier they are unable to overcome.
To her perfect sympathy for Abbys crisis of faith, Cynthia Thomason adds the blessing of very real children who contribute to brisk subplots. This love story achieves a measure of traditional romantic tenderness; its expansive and family-oriented in a special way. SENSUAL (Aug., 351 pp., $4.99)