Christina Dodd, . . Morrow, $21.95 (344pp) ISBN 978-0-06-056124-6

Propelled by the winning assurance, sensuality and humor that have pushed Dodd's paperback romances (Once Upon a Pillow , etc.) onto bestseller lists, this hardcover debut launches a trilogy centered on the Lost Princesses, three young women who fled their revolution-swept small country in the late 1700s and who must dodge the assassins set on their trail. Middle sister Clarice hides in plain sight, traveling from town to town, proclaiming herself a princess fallen on hard times and selling face creams made from royal recipes to village women. Honey-haired and stunning, Clarice has little trouble making sales but more difficulty fending off men. When Robert MacKenzie, Earl of Hepburn, invites her to stay at his manor, Clarice senses a seductive danger in accepting his offer, but she does so anyway. Clarice soon realizes her instincts were correct. Even as Robert ensnares her with kisses, he lures her into playing a part in an elaborate scheme of vengeance. Torn between her passion for Robert and her duty to remain a princess, Clarice must decide if her loyalty belongs to her heart or to her country. Engaging and witty, Dodd's voice shines through on every page, infusing Clarice and Robert with a genuine warmth and appeal in both the ballroom and the bedroom. Agent, Mel Berger. (July)