Rebellious, wealthy Ann Brighton is forced to accompany her father on a European tour to earn enough money to buy her own horse farm and her independence.
Rhys Kendall, the sixth Duke of Carlton, hates Skip Brighton for ruining his family business, but he cannot deny his attraction to Skip's daughter Ann. An impoverished nobleman, he must either sell his family's precious possessions or find a rich American wife whose father is hunting for a title and husband for a wayward daughter.
Their mutual love of horses draws Ann and Rhys together until they discover each other's identities. Still the powerful attraction between them smolders each time they meet. Soon they become the subject for a London tabloid gossip column.
Ann does not know how to react to Rhys. She wants her independence, but she also craves love and he seems like a man who might give her both.
With her father's meddling, her friend's advice, an old enemy of Rhys and a blackmailer to deal with, Ann and Rhys elude everyone and claim an idyll in the country. But once they put their plans for marriage into play they find themselves caught in a madman's trap.
The first in the American Beauties series, NEVER BEFORE presents readers with a carefully constructed view of Victorian society and sets the stage for the next book in the trilogy. As stiff as the society in which Rhys and Ann live may be, NEVER BEFORE incorporates bits of mystery and sensuality with charming characters to interest readers. SENSUAL (May, 377 pp., $6.50)