The always entertaining Mary Balogh ventures back into Georgian England for a compelling love story of the higher echelons of British society.

It should have been the most perfect day. Lady Cassandra Havelock is celebrating her twenty-first birthday, the day she becomes the Countess of Worthing in her own right. At last her protective family will have to treat her as an adult, and she will finally be able to take control of her own destiny. Her plans for independence, however, are irrevocably altered by the arrival of the mysterious Viscount Wroxley, a handsome stranger who claims to be a friend of her late father. More importantly, his ardent courtship wins her heart almost immediately.

But who is he really, and what secrets does he hide that will turn her world upside down? It will take all of her strength of spirit to deal with the shocking truth about her new husband's past and true identity.

After a somewhat slow start, Ms. Balogh builds the emotional intensity to a blistering level as she turns a marriage of convenience into a rare and beautiful love. SENSUAL (May, 329 pp., $6.50)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer