Hern has taken the ugly duckling theme and infused it with engaging characters and a tender love story. Drawing on the cast she created for The Ladies' Fashionable Cabinet series, she's paired the sexy, dashing Nicholas Parrish with the Cabinet's new editor, shy bluestocking Prudence Armitage.

When Prudence and Nicholas are found in a compromising situation, her family insists on marriage. Nicholas agrees, believing Pru feels as trapped as he. But she's in love with him and will do anything to attract his attention. With the help of the Cabinet's fashion editor, the notorious Crimson Ladies, her family and even Nicholas' father, Pru comes out of her shell, turning into a lovely swan Nicholas cannot resist.

Readers will enjoy not only this wonderful romance, but Pru's love of music and her desire to start a school for disadvantaged children, as well as Nicholas' desire to be a self-made man and the endearing by-play between the family members. Charming and emotional, with a story that drives straight to the heart, this is a winner, and Hern an author to cherish. SENSUAL (May, 380 pp., $5.99)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin