Before leaving for California, Jonathan Blair visits his Civil War buddy, Lawrence Bendalin. What irks Jonathan is that Lawrence's brother, Lamar, ran from the battlefield. Jonathan knows that he will have to face Lamar and that Lawrence is ignorant of Lamar's cowardice. What he doesn't count on is his instantaneous attraction to Lamar's daughter, Eliza Kate.

Eliza Kate is wary, yet strangely attracted to the handsome part-Indian man she has heard about from her uncle. But she is almost engaged to Fletcher, her father's business partner.

Lawrence hopes Jonathan will prove to Eliza Kate that Fletcher is not the man for her. While Jonathan and Eliza Kate find their attraction difficult to understand, they do acknowledge it. Compounding the plot is the fact that Eliza Kate's mother, Delia, is ill and suffering from dementia.

Conn tackles a number of major themes: low self-esteem, revenge, complex family issues and several secondary plotlines, putting so much convoluted plot into her romance that there was little room for the character development so characteristic of her earlier work. Still, this is a pleasant, realistic western romance for fans of the subgenre. SENSUAL (Dec., 385 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Evelyn Feiner