A turn-of-the-century romance with a whiff of gothic (there's a Curse), sex of medium velocity (ripped lace and soft cries), and alternating highs and lows of adultery. Southern belle Denise is pushed by her impoverished parents into marriage with Rhett-like Jason, success-greedy after a starving Liverpool boyhood. Jason's civility while enjoying conjugal rapine wears away Denise's initial aversion, but then there is the matter of Jason's dark secret. As captain of an illegal slaver, he had ordered the drowning of sick slaves, and a shipmate who remembers this dirty deed delivers an impressive curse on the handsome Hudson River castle that Jason has built for his bride. Denise will soon have a guilty secret, too, when she conceives a child by a Southern lover whom Jason kills. And later, Jason's mistress, a governess, commits suicide. So it goes from murk to dewy mist (""The pale lilac skirt of her gown floated around her like a cloud at twilight"") until there's forgiveness and fortitude all around. . . qualities recommended for the reader seeking such casual entertainment.