Just to be rid of her French suitor, Gillian MacDonell agrees to wed the infamous Nicholas, Earl of Kincreag. It's been said that he murdered his wife, child and several servants, but he is her dying father's dearest friend and she is helpless against the desire he conjures in her.

The MacDonells are known as witches, but Gillian believes she has no magic, since every time she attempts it, she is cursed with illness. It is only after she weds Nicholas that she discovers her powers of necromancy, but learning the secrets of her "gift" may well kill her and those she loves.

Nicholas does not believe in magic—that died the day his wife was killed— but Gillian casts a spell over him. He realizes that all he holds dear is not as it appears—and that the murderers who haunted his past have returned with a vengeance to claim Countess Gillian as their latest victim.

The latest in Holling's newest trilogy might be called classic gothic with a twist: dark earl, timid countess-to-be caught in a looming castle and hauntings for all. But despite the presence of talented witches, the tale's all-too-familiar intrigues make it a traditional one-night-stand kind of read. SENSUAL (Jul., 384 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Anne Black