The war had been hard on Elise Worthen. Her parents were found murdered, her brother is imprisoned in a Yankee hell-hole and she has had to commit a heinous crime to save herself from a vile man's scheme. But when Jared Kensington returns home with news of her brother, Elise is both delighted and fearful.

Jared arrives, not only to help rebuild his plantation, but as a new appointee of the Treasury Department. He must learn what happened to Claude Onash, the corrupt Treasury agent who ran off with Federal money.

When Jared finds that Elise has paid a loan with Federal currency, he is caught between his growing desire for Elise and his suspicion that she knows what happened to Onash.

As he helps his grandfather work to save their home and Elise's brother returns, embittered and hostile, Jared and Elise try to find a way to rebuild their loves, clear her name and see that the true villains are ruined.

IFONLY is a well-drawn portrait of the South during Reconstruction. Though a bit slow-paced at times, the characters and their problems claim the reader's attention. Debra Cowan continues to make her mark as a fine portrait wordsmith whose strong stories will remain reader favorites. SWEET (Sept. 388 pp., $5.50)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin