When Marie Lafayette answers the summons of her military father that she teach at his post, she sees Black Hawk and moments later, he holds her briefly to rescue her from a runaway horse. Later, Marie goes to Black Hawks ranch to buy a horse and hes attracted enough to consent, against his better judgement, to teach her to ride.

The two are soon deeply in love, but each struggles to declare that love, because it demands a choice away from their families. For Black Hawk, loving Marie means the possible loss of his heritage and for Marie, their love threatens to force a final acknowledgement that her father doesnt love her.

For any reader who knows the tragic history of the Black Hawk War of 1832, the story presents a view that requires extra strong reader commitment to favor romanticism over American history. Jillian Hart seems to have intended the main conflict of this romance to be that of a daughter trying to win the love and respect of an emotionally distant father, but the time and place of the story tend to shift reader attention to what should have been the more intense conflictthat of a white woman and a Native American man falling in love within 10 years of the last, and one of the most bloody, Indian wars to take place in the area. Indeed, the strangely gentle conflict of this mixed-race romance would have appealed more if set 35 to 40 years later.

However, the setting is well drawn, the prose enjoyable. Perhaps for most, the easy resolution of difficult history need not affect the pleasant reading. SENSUAL (Apr., 320 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger