A serviceable historical-romance tale from Goodwin (Daughters, 1988: Floodtide, 1987), this one set in 1860s London and Paris and concentrating on the fortunes--and misfortunes--of one Nelly Briggs, an 18-year-old Cockney girl whose life as a downstairs servant in a brothel changes abruptly when she witnesses the murder of a prostitute by the young Viscount Leckford. The story begins as the lord's younger brother Matthew--sensitive, painterly--decides to take the blame for the murder by his much-loved brother Robert in order to avoid family scandal. Matthew--now in "disgrace"--heads for Paris and takes up the life of an impoverished painter, just as Nelly is sent away--also to Paris. Nelly becomes an artist's model, sings at a cafÇ, and, naturally, very soon crosses paths with Matthew. Instant love ensues--as does their affair--but when Robert is killed in the Boer War, Matthew returns to Leckford Court--and to his cruel, coldhearted mother. Meanwhile, Nelly gives birth to Matthew's son Tom (though, of course, Matthew will not know he's a father for a very long time), leaves the baby with a Scottish friend, and--thanks to some lucky connections--begins a US tour with a musical that will eventually bring her fame. For money if not love, Matthew will marry a wealthy American girl, but years later--that blighted union over--it will be Nelly who once again appears in his life. Thanks to her intervention, Matthew's inheritance is saved--and true love blooms again. Fair-to-middling melodrama-romance--decently researched, but a formula effort that remains rather limp throughout.