A febrile and overwrought passage through the thickets of sexual obsession, in which Bills (Consider This Home, 1994) manages to illustrate the degradations of lust while conveying very little sense of its appeal. Peter Keith, from the very first line of his narration--``I didn't mean to fall in love with them''--seems determined to exonerate himself. A 25-year-old furniture designer from a working- class family, Peter moves into a tastefully landscaped housing development in southern California and becomes fast friends with his next-door neighbors, the Lambents, who seem to embody the sort of natural-fiber sophistication that Peter has had to cultivate so carefully on his own. It's not clear what Chaz and Muriel Lambent do, but Chaz is sleek and earthy in a Bruce Weber-ish kind of way (when Peter first spies him, he is hosing himself down in the back yard after an early-morning swim) and Muriel is ``like a Modigliani sculpted in the flesh.'' In short order, Chaz seduces Peter, then flabbergasts him by bringing Muriel in for the second round. Although Peter seems gay in all of his instincts and most of his tastes, he finds that he actually enjoys this variation, and soon he is happily established as the free agent in their mÇnage Ö trois, which at first revolves mainly around sex and parties. Chaz and Muriel, however, quickly raise the stakes: To bondage, then to sadism, then to outright degradation and torture. Though Peter reaches his threshold soon after they embark on animal sacrifice, he is unable to break loose until the bloody climax of their obsession. Even then, of course, he can't rest in peace. He is doomed to remember the Lambents, to spend the rest of his life wondering ``what kind of life might persist after a heart's illicit union with the celestial.'' Hackneyed and remarkably lifeless: a Honcho fantasy written in Harlequin prose.