A staggeringly long three-generational family saga, a kind of California Gone with the Wind featuring: the pre-Civil War Spanish culture; the opening of the state by the Gold Rush; the explosion of commerce that became San Francisco; the rise of labor and the law; the absorption of Chinese, blacks, and Indians amid waves of tidal prejudice and anger--all of it tricked out in a dense fabric of fashions, from bustles to frizzes, and borne on an endless flow of improvements and inventions, the pony express, the telephone, the photograph, the sewing machine. . . . At the center of it stands Teresa ""Tessa"" Macleod y Amarista, who is dominated by a will to be herself (a violet-eyed, raven-haired aristocrat of mixed blood) and to participate in the life around her, to have children and grandchildren and develop the family ranch. Her chosen mate is sincere Gavin Ramsay, a fierce giant who first sees her swimming naked in a rock pool and whom she, in a maidenly panic, stabs nearly to death. From such germs is the Ramian Enterprises empire born as Tessa and Gavin battle the frontier, spawn and rule through Valle del Mar (spread #1) and Rancho Magnifico (spread #2), raise palominos, have unsuccessful affairs and illegitimate children, while Gavin's whore Soledad keeps her hold over him with a daughter she claims is his, even as he must accept Tessa's child by family adviser Jordan Ames after she nearly loses her life in a failed abortion. De Blasis (Suffer a Sea Change) carries off her move from gothical to romantic-historical with a certain zest, even if thunderingly familiar passional family formulas boom out from each and every page.