When cruel Pa dies in 1876, homely orphan Adelia Dorsey--a passerby once told her she would be fit only to wash floors in a whorehouse--has no choice but to seek out her relatives at the ancestral Catskill mansion. Although the families have been estranged (but why?) great-aunt Jewel takes Adelia warmly in hand and in no time has made her ditch the ghastly garments enforced by pa. New clothes and tight lacing reveal her gorgeous shape to the neighborhood, and the two men of the household lay suit immediately--handsome, amiable womanizing Rex and dark, compelling John. But Adelia wonders: Are they sincere in their love? Can anyone really love a dog like me? What are they after, anyway? When Aunt Jewel is smothered and two attempts are made on Adelia's life, she wonders harder--even though John wins her heart when he says, ""By God, you are beautiful when you are furious!"" And all the usual mysteries are resolved in the obligatory dungeon scene--standard wind-up to a standard all-in-the family American gothic.