Winona Abbott breaks off her engagement to Deegan Galloway when she discovers he's a fortune hunter courting two heiresses at once. She promptly invests her dowry in her brother's new luxury passenger liner and sails for England with her friend, the recently widowed Hildegarde Hartleby, who's been left with nothing but debt and has also lost her diamond necklace to a jewel thief.
As the liner is leaving, Wyn meets Garrett Blackhawk. Returning to take over his duties as Baron, Garrett is accompanied by his companion in past adventures, Deegan. Although strongly attracted to the baron, Wyn believes Garret's title a lie he and Deegan are using to aid them as fortune hunters. And when yet another jewel theft occurs on the liner, Wyn believes the fake baron might also be the thief. Soon she recognizes a Pinkerton agent traveling in first class, but doesn't know that she's on his lists of suspects for the robberies.
Beth Henderson's mid-19th-century shipboard romance has the style and tone of a Regency romance, but with a hint of danger. The novel is smoothly written and skillfully presents the one American period which lends itself to the Austen-like novel of manners. SENSUAL (June, 337 pp., $5.99)