Leslie Ann, you're a lady! . . . Ladies do not become nurses!"" Thus twitted by her plantation mama (it's 1891), reluctant Georgia belle Leslie Ann huffs off to Atlanta for a lengthy visit with her rich, eccentric Aunt Jessica. There a physician infects her with the doctor bug, tutors her, and arranges for her to go ""up North"" and study at Bellevue Hospital Medical College. In New York she is a brilliant student as well as a social success, allowing this flatly flighty ""education of a lady doctor"" to detour descriptively into New York society balls, skating parties, Newport mansions, and the Red Cross in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. The education also includes men: the usual sequential trio, one of whom marries and impregnates L.A. But all is not well, since author Blickle (North Sea Mistress, 1977) has a ridiculous secret to reveal (is it enough to say it begins with the letter I?)--a secret that will throw both heroine and beloved into fatal tizzies. A lot of research seems to have gone into this period piece, but diffuse storytelling and dipsy-doodle plotting leave the period in pieces--hardly worth picking up.