Laurel Seymore has cared for her sister and the family business since her parents' deaths. She has built Seymore's into the finest dress shop in pre-Civil War Charleston. But aside from running the business, Laurel has been involved in a dangerous secret that can bring her face to face with death or Major Brett McKenzie, a man who can both expose her and awaken her desire.

Stationed in Charleston, Major McKenzie hopes to capture the elusive smuggler known as "Jack Diego." When the enigmatic Miss Seymore is implicated as Diego's accomplice, Brett is hot on her trail.

For years, Laurel has allowed Jack to use her cellar to store his goods and taken his money in order to buy slaves their freedom. Brett's presence threatens her work, but more importantly, his natural sensuality threatens her heart. Their passion explodes one night, but by day they are enemies, torn between their newfound love and duty.

With touches of tenderness, strong emotions, intriguing historical detail and even humor Elizabeth Ann Michaels draws her readers into an unusual pre-Civil War romance that illuminates the time period and the power of love to overcome distrust. SENSUAL (Dec., 300 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin