Rafe Aigner isnt sure what hes going to do with the newspaper he won in a card game, but hes taking his nine-year-old son, Juan Rafael, from Mexico to Texas to try to make a life for them.

Imagine the surprise when Rafe comes to claim the San Antonio Star and finds out that his childhood sweetheart, Maddie Calhoun, is managing the newspaper. It was Maddies love for her fathers newspaper that prevented her from running away with Rafe long ago.

Maddie is just as surprised to see him, for she had long believed Rafe died during the Civil War. As a result, Maddie married and came to Texas to begin her own newspaper. If the truth be told, Maddie, a recent widow, is not at all unhappy that her husband is dead. However, she is shocked to learn that he gambled away her livelihood.

Rafe is incensed, and feels she betrayed him by not waiting for him. Yet, his son takes to Maddie right away. So they strike a bargain: she will run the newspaper for three years and hope to make a profit while caring for Juan, while Rafe runs a gambling table in the hotel room. During one card game, Rafe wins a ranch and begins to make that a home for himself and Juan, all with Maddies help.

Rafe and Maddie try to fight their memories and continued attraction to each other, as they begin to trust each other again and learn to love as mature adults.

Ms. Dellin has written interesting characters, whose depths she plumbs, while peppering her romance with wonderful secondary characters. What a pleasure to read about Maddie and Rafe and see their love finds its logical and passionate growth. SENSUAL (Jun., 384 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Evelyn Feiner