By the time Erika Scharf, shortened from Scharffenberger, immigrates to Plum Creek, Oregon for her new job as a mothers helper, the baby is three weeks old and the mother has died. Unwilling to give up her dream to live in America, Erika decides to stay in spite of the fact that the father, Doctor Jonathan Callender, is sending thebabyto be raised by family in Scotland. Shes not experienced with babies and expected the mother to teach her the job, but she quickly falls in love with the baby, her new home, the town and, secretly, the grieving father.

His wifes death, his failure to make her happy and, most of all, his failure to save her, contribute to Jonathans withdrawal into numbing guilt. To make up for these failures, he focuses all his attention on trying to get the community to purify its water supply, not an easy task in 1886. Over the long summer, the danger of cholera steadily increaspassionate wish for self-reliance and her vibrant approach to daily living make it increasingly difficult for Jonathan to focus at all and when the outraged members of the small community insist the good doctor marry his young servant, he accepts it as the best solution.

Lynna Bannings uplifting romance confirms that love heals even the grief of love lost and affirms a clear and simple truth: the American dream came true for many women because they made the decision to believe in and work toward that dream in their daily lives. SENSUAL (Aug., 296 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger