Another long (672-page) powerhouse of a romance from Gage (A Glimpse of Stocking, 1988), this time in the tale of two determined women of the 60's who do battle for the heart of a virile young senator. Orphaned as a child, beautiful, red-haired Tess Dameron grew up with a talent for wrapping men around her little finger and with a yen for the carefree life of a black widow. She carries out her ambition flawlessly--marrying powerful men, taking control of their money, and then grieving convincingly when they die. At the same time, Laura Belohlavek, also an orphan and also breathtaking (though darkly exotically so), is a saint by comparison; her strength of character stands by her as her infatuation with a college professor leads her to a traumatic illegal abortion, and as fate and a savvy husband transforms her into an internationally known fashion designer and successful photographer. The two women are brought together through their shared passion for Haydon Lancaster--Korean War hero, charismatic senator en route to the White House, and wistful heir to a vast family fortune. Using a few well-timed campaign contributions to maneuver herself into Haydon's inner circle, Tess soon ousts his alcoholic society-wife and marries him herself. Ironically, just as Tess realizes she's actually in love with her husband, Haydon's spiteful sister informs her that his heart belongs to someone else. Learning of his love for the mysterious Laura, Tess first tries to win Haydon away, then frantically labors to suppress the shocking troth that threatens to surface in the nation's newspapers: Laura has given birth to Haydon's illegitimate child. Blackmailers, police detectives, and an assortment of thugs complicate the scene as both women's struggle to protect the man they love leads inevitably to murder, scandal, and--rest assured--plenty of great sex. Technicolor characters and sizzling prose--certain to be another Big Book for Gage.