Mary Shae Rowan is not going to marry Ethan Lowell, no matter what her father, King, has planned, so she flees. King flies into a rage; rebellious Shae is becoming more than he can tolerate.
When Phillip Payton finds the bedraggled woman with the wounded foot on the beach, he realizes she is to be his friend Ethans fianci. Phillip has his own problems, including the care of his sisters and the running of the family shipping business.
To complicate matters, he begins to hire Negroes, angering the white dock workers, who threaten him. And to make matters worse, his fiancie, Rachel, breaks their engagement because of his position regarding Negroes, and turns to Ethan.
Phillip and Shae meet on the beach and are shot at, causing them to seek refuge together, forming a closeness born of desperation, passion and understanding.
The hurricane that comes ashore provides the catalyst for Phillip and Shae to face the demons that plague them. Each searches for the answers to the questions of the past so that they can create a future based on love, without regrets. Once the past is laid to rest, Shae and Phillip can make a future together.
Ms. Atlee has created fierce storms in this romance, coming in from the Gulf and within the lives of her characters. The conniving of Ethan, the coldness of King, and Phillips sisters all add to the storm, while the desire for love motivate Phillip and Shae to seek each other, and ultimately to find an understanding and loving mate in spite of their past experiences. SENSUAL (Jul., 347 pp., $5.99)