Disabled Civil War veteran Jake McPherson wants to be left alone after his wife's sudden death. But after several years of living in seclusion, it become evident that his son, Jason, needs a mother's guiding hand. When Jason starts misbehaving in school, spinster schoolmarm Alicia Merriweather goes to talk to his father.
Alicia understands the pain of loneliness and that Jake's brusqueness hides his emotional torment. She stands up to his harsh words, demanding he take notice of Jason and forcing him to come back to life. Alicia even volunteers to help Jake care for his son.
She earns Jake's respect, and he proposes a marriage of convenience. Alicia, who never imagined having a home and family, accepts, expecting little more than a chance to care for Jason. But she gets much more as their relationship grows into one of tenderness and love, but one as fragile as a butterfly's wing when it's threatened by foolish pride.
This is the finest of Americana romance. Davidson brings the heartland to life with her remarkably realistic characters. But more than that, she shows compassion and a keen insight into the characters' souls, bringing a simple marriage of convenience plot great emotional depth. SENSUAL (Jan., 380 pp., $5.99)