Artist Maurice Vallarreal drinks and gambles away much of his income and his daughter Kelsey must do his work to keep his clients happy. When Maurice contracts for her to repair a fresco for the Duke of Salford, Kelsey can't refuse because the money is badly needed, but she rebels against the situation.

Edward James Huntington Noble, the Eighth Duke of Salford, was fearfully scarred in the same accident that caused the death of Kelsey's mother. He hides at his country estate from the ton, and the ladies who faint at the sight of his disfigurement.

Kelsey never faints, but she isn't prepared for the dark castle, the ghostly presence of the Duke's first wife, her own haunted dreams, her trembling awareness of the duke or his secret reason for requesting her presence.

Constance Hall is a new writer with entertainment on her mind. She builds reader expectations through her deft adherence to the conventions of historical romance, then surprises with a subtle plot twist. Put reality aside and indulge in a tale of Gothic proportions, class conflict, sensuality, intrigue and love. SENSUAL (July 348 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger