Under a blanket of stars, heiress Alanna Patterson vows to love and honor ship's captain Caleb Pitt, who will return from his six-week voyage for their wedding. But when there's a tragic accident at sea, Caleb is the only survivor—and Alanna's father is the board of inquiry's main witness against him. After the inquiry, Caleb retires to the Outer Banks as a lighthouse keeper, and the wedding is called off.

The young lovers don't see each other for two years, during which time Alanna's father dies and leaves her penniless. His last request is that she take a sealed box to Caleb. Now the fun starts. Each has enough pride to fill 10 people. Alanna doesn't want Caleb to know she's no longer a "princess," and he doesn't want her to know how much her family's betrayal hurt him.

This is a compelling page-turner about two characters who grow and learn the joys, sorrows and secrets of each other. The characters are people you would want to know, and the setting and historical detail are a rich, integral part of the story. This is a wonderful book to curl up with on a snowy day. SENSUAL (Feb., 304 pp., $5.25)

Reviewed by: 
Deborah Brent