Everything about this novel leads readers to expect a traditional romance, but Lockwood's debut is closer to a combination of erotica, with its emphasis on sex over love, and the Mandingo books of the 1970s, which were sensational, sadistic novels with sexual overtones that exposed the brutality of slavery. Lockwood incorporates too many scenes for shock value alone: the menage a trois and homosexual love scenes, the brutalization of the hero
and characters whose motivations
will not appeal to romance readers.
After leaving the island in shame, Clarissa Onslowe returns to take a position as a plantation governess. No innocent, she falls into a heated affair with fellow passenger Allen Pendale. Allen is fleeing England after cuckolding one husband
too many, and he sees a kindred
soul in Clarissa. There are no strings attached to their liaison, and it should end once they are ashore.
Clarissa assumes her responsibilities on the plantation of Lord Lemarchand (aka March) while Allen goes to see
his father with the news of his mother's death. However, neither can forget
the naughty games they played, and March lures Clarissa into inviting Allen
to join them. Allen agrees to bed sport with the two of them, but when Allen cannot love March as he desires, anger and betrayal push March to imprison Allen and treat him as a
runaway slave. His only hope is
that Clarissa loves him enough to
come to his rescue. (Signet Eclipse, Oct.,
380 pp., $14.00)