Judith Ivory's erudite prose whisks readers into a sophisticated, highly sensual story of seemingly mismatched lovers.

When Stuart Aysgarth, Viscount Mount Villiars runs over her lamb, Yorkshire sheep farmer Emma Hotchkiss is out for blood and recompense. When the nobleman refuses to pay her the animal's worth, the slightly immoral Emma concocts a scheme to transfer monies from the Viscount's surely abundant accounts into her own.

But her little bit of larceny does not go unnoticed by the viscount, who decides to catch Emma and use her talents as a con artist to reclaim some items his uncle has stolen from him. With threats of exposure—and quite a bit of seduction—Stuart compels Emma to help him work the sting.

This intelligent, clever and carefully crafted tale of love and larceny is surprisingly sexy. (Imagine being seduced while tied to a chair!) Ms. Ivory manages to convincingly bring a sheep farmer and nobleman together in a class-conscious society, thanks to her remarkable characters and the utterly ingenious confidence game they run—to say nothing of their riotously sexy relationship. SENSUAL (Nov., 400 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin