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Leora (Lolly) Mayfield doesn't want to be a woman alone anymore, so, at age 30, she answers an ad and travels cross-country to marry a stranger. At this point, Banning's mail-order-bride romance switches from genre familiarity to page-turning hilarity.

Rebel Army Colonel Kellen Macready wants to marry for basically the same reason as Lolly, but she isn't his only prospective bride. There are two other contenders for his hand, and they find themselves in a series of competitions—a question bee, a croquet match, the cake-baking contest of the title and a kissing contest.

Another part of the fun is the intense attraction between Lolly and Kellen, even though she's not really winning. You'll love Banning's subtle magic with romance (somebody send this to Tom Selleck for a movie version!) and with the Dickensian names of the characters. SENSUAL (Nov., 304 pp., $5.50)
Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger