JUST NORTH OF BLISS
In her second novel set at the World's Columbia Exposition in Chicago, the official fair photographer, Winston Asher, is intrigued with the highly photogenic Rowena Belle Monroe. He soon finds that the very Southern Miss Monroe doesn't live up to the name she prefers, Belle. She's maddeningly independent and proper, and constantly corrects him, first for being a Yankee and second for being a man.
Belle left the South and her family to earn a living as a governess in New York. She sends money home, somewhat ashamed of her betrayal of the proper life of a Southern ladyan image that will thoroughly shatter when Will uses her photo for advertising.
Win can't be sure whether love can crack his own image with Belle as a Yankee monster, like the devils who destroyed the South, even 30 years after a war he had no part in fighting. But it becomes more and more urgent to him that he and Belle enter the Twentieth Century together.
Alice Duncan, as always, excels in illustrating the setting for her exuberantly American characters. This one's a cotton candy love story with a bit of spicy humor and thrills to match riding the newly invented Ferris wheel. SENSUAL (May, 315 pp., $5.99)