From the author of the hugely best-selling Destiny (1987), a sprawling (832-page), sexy, thoroughly engrossing mystery/melodrama/romance about a very rich, very fate-struck English family. In 1910, the vast English country estate of Winterscombe is inhabited by the drunken, ill-tempered Lord Cavendish, his quiet, lovely wife, Gwen, and their three sons--Boy, Acland, and Frederic. Visiting one summer weekend is family friend--and brutal and compulsive womanizer--Edward Shawcross, along with his ten-year-old daughter, Constance, whom he has sexually abused since she was five. Shawcross is having a torrid affair with Gwen, but one night he is found horribly murdered, caught in the jaws of a steel animal-trap. Who wanted Shawcross dead? One of the Cavendish boys who has learned of the affair with his mother? The paranoid, jealous husband of one of the Cavendish housemaids? Constance--a strange, fey child--is raised by the Cavendishes, and eventually has dalliances with all three boys. . .before falling truly in love with Acland--who then goes off to the Great War and is soon reported missing and presumed dead. In despair, Constance marries the mysterious London financier Montague Stern--only to have Acland miraculously return a year later, catatonic but physically unharmed. Constance brings him out of his shell-shocked state by making love to him, but shortly after, Montague whisks her away to New York and a new (and unhappy) life. Years later, however, in 1938, when Acland and his heiress-wife Jane are killed in a car accident, Constance will become the caretaker-godmother of their daughter Victoria--who, after several more years, finally learns in the early 70's what really happened to Edward Shawcross, though by this time her aging godmother has committed suicide. Dark, erotic, absolutely convincing: a gem of quality commercial fiction.