THE PAINTED ROSE
Replete with gothic overtones, Birdsell's debut tells the moving, utterly romantic story of Lady Sarah—who, like her roses, is sweet and fragile, hiding her scarred face from the world—and famed artist Lucien Delacourte. Lucien is fleeing the demons of his past, the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter. Together, they find love heals.
Lucien arrives at Elmstone Manor to teach Sarah to paint and becomes fascinated by the woman behind the veils. Each day they bring joy and the lust for life back to each other. Then the accidents begin. Someone is trying to kill Sarah, but who? Her bitter sister-in-law, the ex-fiancé who returns to woo her, hostile servants or an unknown killer?
Beautifully written with compassion and sensitivity, the book's poetic prose flows from the page into your heart, even as the suspense builds and you're drawn into the mystery. Birdsell has a marvelous future awaiting her as her career blossoms into full bloom like one of Sarah's roses. SENSUAL (Sep., 320 pp., $6.99)