The title provides the clue to this fictional biography of a woman who has become one of the Texan legends. She left a revealing manuscript and it is on that Miss Kirkland, a fellow Texan, has built her romantic story of purple passion and callous brutality. Harriet Page Potter Ames (she had three husbands) was unfortunate in the choice of her first, Page, a merchant turned gambler, who took her to the wilds of Texas in 1835 and deserted her and his two children while he went off to fight for the young Republic of Texas. Potter, the second, was violent and charming, a cabinet officer of the Republic, who married her under false pretenses, and -- as Harriet learned after his murder -- was consistently unfaithful. With the third husband, Charles Ames, she knew real happiness, although she was never allowed to forget the malicious gossip that dubbed her ""Potter's Paramour"". Based on the lives of actual people, this falls between an authentic portrait and historical soap opera, with the latter appeal dimmed by over-long, often tedious, over-written romance.