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.
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)