Kathleen E. Woodiwiss name is synonymous with historical romance. Readers cant wait for each new book, making her a New York Times best-selling author time and again. And though PETALS ON THE RIVER is similar to the classic The Flame and the Flower in its colonial Virginia setting (as well as a few plot similarities), this is very different.

Shemaine OHearn, daughter of a wealthy Englishman, makes some powerful enemies and finds herself sent to the colonies to be sold as an indentured servant. Though shackled and filthy, she maintains her dignity and fights the injustices aboard the ship, making her even more malicious foes. Yet it is her feisty spirit that catches Gage Thorntons eye, and he buys Shemaines papers, hiring her as his two-year-old sons nurse. The child quickly falls in love with Shemaine, as does Gage.

Shadows haunt their relationship, however. There are whispers about Gages first wifes death, more rumors begun by a jealous woman who wants Gage for her own and, even as Shemaine and Gage grasp at happiness, those who wish her ill reach out to threaten their new-found love.

Expectations are very high when it comes to a new book by an icon of the genre. Some long time readers will feel that Ms. Woodiwiss magic has returned, and PETALS ON THE RIVER can best be compared to Ashes in the Wind or A Rose in Winter in its elegant prose and suspenseful overtones. Others may feel that the long, lush narrative, so much a part of Ms. Woodiwiss style, slows down the pacing. Yet all in all, few readers will be disappointed. SENSUAL (Aug., 559 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin