In WICKED, the third volume of Ms. Barnetts medieval trilogy, she explores the stages of love: mischievous young love, passionate love and the love that grows into a mature meeting of the minds and souls.

Sofia Howard and Tobin de Clare meet as children, playing and teasing, making foolish wagers and stealing kisses. With one sweet kiss, their destinies are sealed, even if she does throw water balloons made of pig bladders on his head.

King Edward is pleased to betroth the troublesome Sofia to Tobin. But his plan backfires when Sophie runs off, believing Tobin only loves her fortune.

Dressed as a lad, she makes her way to London with some traveling players, until Tobin catches up to her. When her friends are murdered, Sofia realizes how close she came to death. With her newfound knowledge, life and love become more precious.

Yet, Tobins masculine pride will not allow him to tell her of the love he has always had for her and this foolishness drives her awayuntil they grow enough to turn their passionate marriage into a perfect blend of love, respect, and desire.

The beauty of WICKED is not only in Ms. Barnetts delicious prose, her hallmark humor, delightful characters and wonderful dialogue, but also in its stunning messagethat love changes everything. WICKED should be read and reread for that lesson alone. For all those who fell in love young and still have that love later in life, WICKED is a tribute. SENSUAL (Oct., 450 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin