When a man dressed in black, riding a black stallion and wearing an eagle-handle gun rides into town, everyone in Paradise believes he's the notorious gunfighter Jesse Gault and their guilty consciousness go into gear.

Jesse takes a room at Cady McGill's saloon and is soon propositioned to take a man's money, claim he did him in and leave town. Jesse complies even though he has never heard the man's name or the name of the man who supposedly hired him. When this happens time and again, Jesse realizes he can be quite comfortable in Paradise.

Cady has more to worry about than a gunman. Ever since she inherited the saloon and an old petered-out gold mine, she's had her hands full with her rival saloon owner and mine owner. She knows he's out to ruin her any way he can and Cady wonders if Jesse's been hired to do the job.

But the sweet-taking outlaw finds Cady just the right kind of woman for him and he begins to find a way to win her trust and her heart. Still, how can a hard-working woman trust a drifter who makes his living by the gun? And what happens when he approaches her arch rival with a deal and then finds himself facing another Jesse Gault?

In this sophisticated, humorous western, Ms. Gaffney turns her talents to a story of an unusual masquerade and a town of guilty men suddenly gripped by morals in a delightful, mature romance that brings readers a unique look at the Wild West. Only Ms. Gaffney would find such a clever way to do that. SENSUAL (Aug., 400 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin