Lady Jane Smithfield, also known as Scandal, is continuing her grandmother's tradition of using her estate for a refuge for abused women and their children. She must also protect her land from the railroad, and she doesn't know that her new man of business, Marcus Fitzalan, is actually a spy for the railroad.

Jane sabotages the rails to try to stop the completion of the line -- and she also tries to resist her attraction to Marcus. Marcus, meanwhile, wants to find out why Jane is so adamant about stopping the railroad -- and also win her love. When the attacks on the rails escalate, Marcus realizes that Jane could not possibly have done all of the sabotage. And where's the land option that her grandmother signed?

This book has an interesting premise, but it doesn't come together into a coherent story. Characters change without motivation and often seem like stock inventions plugged into the story. Too bad, because the concept of a house of refuge is very intriguing, and the reader wants to like Jane and care about her crew of unlikely housemates. SENSUAL (May, 283 pp, $26.95)
Reviewed by: 
Bunny Callahan