Scandalous Risks

Susan Howatch, Author Fawcett Books $7.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-449-21982-9

Venetia Flaxton, an intelligent but desultory young woman, details her affair with the 61-year-old dean of Starbridge Cathedral in this fourth of Howatch's Church of England series. ``A commanding novel of substance and heart,'' said PW. Howatch ``treats romance, sex, love and religion with the seriousness and humor of the best 19th-century novelists.'' (Dec.)