It seems like a lifetime, but Jessica Fox has not always been the beautiful, educated young woman the world knows as the Marquess of Belmore's ward. Once she was the finest cutpurse in town, an urchin with no hope but the gallows. Then "Papa Reggie" took her under his wing and she became the prize of the ton.
But the only person Jessica yearns to impress is the Marquess' son, Matthew. Returning from years at sea, Matthew fears that his aging father is duped by the clever thief. He tries to find something "wrong" with Jessica; instead he discovers a sensitive young woman who cares for his ailing father and teaches the tenants' children to read.
He refuses to allow his father to push them into marriage, but on Jessica's wedding day to another, a drunken Matt abducts her from the cathedral and must then marry her himself.
The deep and passionate love that grows between them is threatened by Jessica's brother's blackmail attempts, her own fear of society's censure and another's ruthless scheme to expose Jessica as a fraud.
Kat Martin brilliantly illuminates the page with her bright characters, engaging romance, steamy sensuality and a secondary love story that will delight readers. Quite simply, she shimmers like a bright diamond in the genre and INNOCENCE UNDONE is a real gem. SENSUAL (Jan., 400 pp., $6.50)