British-born Caroline Hampton's father left Atlanta to avoid the Confederacy and was disinherited by his father, a heavy Colonel. So newly-orphaned Care crosses the ocean in 1897 with quite a chip on her shoulder--her only distinguishing feature. Although the Col. has never forgiven his son and at first refuses to acknowledge Caro's identity, he is an heirless old man and is bound to be won over--especially after Care takes a sincere reforming interest in his cotton mill md the local textile industry. A harder problem to solve is Cousin Eric, with whom she falls in love (she even surrenders her virtue one mad night in the shed), though he is married to Tina, the local roundheels belle. Divorce is unthinkable--it would ruin his political career--so the problem and this tedious julepathon have to drawl on to their denouement at least 100 pages beyond essentials. Ellis' Southern discomforts (Magnolias, Savage Oaks, etc.) don't get any better; they just get longer.