The author transfers her medical interests accrued in other novels back to the turn of the 18th-century in this red-eyed romance about two star-crossed street urchins, both of whom were catapulted into what should have been the good life -- Abel to become a doctor, Lilith the toast of London's stage. Young Abel, never slow ""on the dip,"" is nonetheless captured by his target, Jesse Constam, also a graduate of the gutter, now a well-to-do merchant, but childless. Abel is scrubbed, adopted and reared as a gentleman. Jesse's wife, grim and prim guardian of respectability and timid daughter Dorothy, is even less pleased when Jesse insists she help in some way the fierce little gamine Lilith. She does succeed in shipping off Lilith, out of sight but not out of Abel's mind, as he plods ahead with his medical studies. Wedding plans with daughter Dorothy are discarded when the soulmates are reunited since Lilith causes a holocaust -- one suicide, a murder and a sad marriage which does, at the close, offer a cold spark of hope. Hot, crowded, and except for the grislier medical addenda, just fine for effortless chocolate-coated reading.