Six years after being transported to Botany Bay and urged to marry one of the prison guards, Daisy Tanner returns to England. Now a rich widow with a full pardon, she's free from an abusive marriage. Though she harbors an aversion to the marriage act, Daisy plans to marry a man who can offer her peace and protection. The gentleman she has in mind once befriended her, the older ex-convict Geoffrey Sauvage, Earl of Egremont.

She's wary of his very good friend Leland Grant, Viscount Haye. A womanizer who's not very handsome, Lee is nevertheless intelligent and has a foppish demeanor and a rapier wit. He finds Daisy charming and easy to converse with, and she discovers that Lee is a kind and gentle man who awakens long dormant feelings.

When someone accuses Daisy of murder, both men offer her marriage and their protection. Daisy is drawn to Lee, but can she fully become his partner in bed? Lee will have to use all his expertise and patience as a lover to teach her the joys of love.

With intelligent characters and a masterful blending of compassion, sensuality and wicked humor, Layton's exquisite finale to the Botany Bay series is a jewel of a book. SENSUAL (May, 384 pp., $5.99)
Reviewed by: 
Joan Hammond