Doctor Hallie Gardiner approaches Jake Parrish, known as the "Young Midas," to solicit a donation for the Mission Infirmary for Chinese Women in roaring, post-Civil War San Francisco.

Jake, recovering from battle wounds, needs a doctor's immediate help in treating his mentally ill and very pregnant wife, Serena. Up to now other doctors have refused to treat Serena or have failed to do her any good. However, Hallie's unprecedented success in treating her leads Jake to demand that Hallie move into his home in exchange for money given the Mission.

While she works to overcome Serena's violent behavior and monitors the pregnancy, Hallie's education about male anatomy is undergoing explosive expansion through her contact with Jake. Hallie and Jake resist their mutual attraction, with little success, until after Serena is murdered. Hallie never seriously suspects Jake and, although there are problems, their savage passion increases.

Ms. Cullman is a skilled romance writer, but the believable, intriguing setting and the highly sensual love scenes are marred by several abrupt transitions and the distraction of Serena's tragic, incurable illness. (Apr., 384 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Gerry Benninger