Dowdy brown dresses, demurely downcast eyes and devastatingly dull conversation are part of the widowed Mrs. Laura Martins strategy for remaining hidden in the obscurity of English country society. But when a shooting accident occurs, her skills as a healer are needed. Before long, she is meeting with Hugh Bradsleigh, Earl of Beaulieu, known as The Puzzlemaker in the ton.

The more she tries to avoid him, the more interested he becomes. An affair, he believes, will enhance her status and solve her financial worries.

By the time hes discovered her secret, Beau loves Laura. Determined to protect her and to win a new life for them, he exposes her to the very danger shes trying to escape.

The style of this Regency leans to the more serious side of Jane Austen whose novels strongly advocated womens rights. Julia Justiss creates an intriguing heroine whose hidden life reminds us why gentlemen heroes of this period are so romanticthey chose not to abuse the absolute power that laws and social custom afforded men over women. Sensual (Dec., 248 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger