Howard (The Skylark's Song, The Morning Tide) offers another teary, Victorian romantic saga set in Liverpool. Rose O'Malley, 11, goes to the great house as a scullery maid and admires the cosseted daughter, Lacy Hemmingway, also 11. Lacy, for all her frocks and pampering, is a ""nice person,"" and, when taken to papa's shipping line for a launching, innocently bats her violet eyes at a stocky dockworker who turns out to be Rose's father, causing him to slip into the water where his legs are sliced off by the departing ship. He dies--and a remorseful Lacy befriends fatherless Rose, who now must support her alcoholic mother, Bridie, and 11 siblings (there'll be more after Bridie marries the worthless Lancer McGhee). Lacy at 16 spurns her family-chosen fiancÃ‰, James Osborne, in passion for adventurer Luke Marlowe, who seduces and abandons her. When Daddy disowns her for this, Lacy joins with Rose to found Hemmingway & O'Malley, Shipping, which the beautiful young 22-year-olds run like the true geniuses they are. James reappears, forgiving, to claim Lacy, but Rose meanwhile has developed an obsession with him that she nurses for years, through James and Lacy's marriage and obvious mutual love. Sourly, Rose hangs to the side, runs the business, becomes wealthy, but stays alone, until she finally manages to seduce James, become preganant by him, and return to Ireland in self-imposed exile. In the weepy finale, there's Rose in dire straits, with the other two coming separately and venomously to the perhaps-rescue. Far from believable but harmless enough fun for saga-lovers.