Poor little rich girl in Manhattan, Southhampton, Venice and Arizona: middling romantic pulp--with occasional literary pretensions--from newcomer Nelson. When Jewel McAllister's father falls from the Empire State Building after trying to rape a young model, her mother disappears, and the 14-year-old girl must leave the family ranch to live with her rich, child-loathing Manhattan aunt. Uncle Dinwiddie is nice but busy having an obsessive affair with Madeleine, the mysterious young woman at the center of Jewel's father's death. Jewel's only friend is cherubic cousin Johnnie, who soon relocates to the ranch and becomes the perfect cowboy. There are hints of humor in all this, undercut by the old-fashioned prose and the one-dimensionality of the people (not to mention stereotypes: black characters cower, roll their eyes and say things like ""Nosiree! I she' woun' go in dere, Miss, if'n ise you!""). Years later, Jewel flees to Venice after an unsuitable marriage and unhappy affair. She is courted by a fortune-hunting nobleman, and Johnnie marries the man's wicked stepmother (who hides her age and her identity as--who else?--Madeleine). The marriage is, of course, disastrous; Johnnie and Jewel confess their mutual passion and share a few blissful moments before his untimely death; there's a happy ending, however, as a perfect husband for Jewel phones her on the second to last page. Contrived romantic melodrama--with moderate entertainment value once you ignore the publisher's comparisons to Holly Golightly, Auntie Mame, and The World of Henry Orient.