Bragen Alexander returns to the Carolinas three years after he escaped hanging for his wife's murder, to find Gabriel Bodine, the man he believes is guilty of the crime.
Nichole Kincaid is trouble. Her brothers have thrown her out for setting fires and sinking ships, and her guardian threatens to do the same. Nichole's only hope is to marry Gabriel Bodine who wants the fortune he mistakenly thinks she possesses.
When Nichole inadvertently shares news of Bragen Alexander's imminent arrival, Gabriel panics and sneaks off with her jewelry. Following him, Nichole discovers he's about to board ship for South Africa via London, but first he stops in a brothel to prepare for the long journey. Dressed as a fallen woman, Nichole prepares to confront Gabriel but instead bumps into Bragen who visits the same brothel to soothe his savage disappointment at just missing the man he pursues. When he meets the disguised Nichole a passionate encounter ensues. Later, to make her determined pursuit of Bodine possible, Nichole poses as Bragen's wife and hides in his cabin until the ship is out to sea.
This feisty heroine, especially appealing in her somewhat bumbling quest for independence, is the prime reason to read WAYWARDANGEL. The touch of humor is just right and in spite of the early encounter between the troubled Bragen and the jinxed Nichole, Sue Rich's complex plot enables her to keep the sexual tension high. SENSUAL (Aug., 400pp., $4.99)