Miles Dampier is returning to England from New South Wales when he rescues Sabina Grey from drowning. He sees her as his "mermaid," but to her muddled mind he is as magical as a selkie and just as dangerous. Miles nurses Sabina back to health and convinces the ship's captain to marry them before they reach England.

Though Sabina knows little about Miles, she discovers that she has fallen in love. But once in London, Miles turns taciturn and moody. He is an enigma, and Sabina is determined to uncover the reason for the hatred and vengeance that is tearing him apart—so determined that she'll risk her life to save his soul.

A wonderful cast of characters—made more endearing by the pet monkey and "reformed" pickpocket Gammon—a dark and brooding Gothic-style hero and a plot that combines high-seas adventure with a tension-filled romance, THE SEA WIFE is an intriguing, compelling debut. SENSUAL (May, 320 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin