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It is New Orleans, 1850. Blanche Paradis, a free woman of color, has carved out a good life, including a job she enjoys, and a man she loves, gambler Bart Donovan. One small blemish mars her happiness: the obsessive interest of a mysterious aristocrat, Lucien St.Clair.
In a moment of weakness, Blanche falls into Lucien’s bed, sealing her fate and that of her lover. For Lucien is much more than he seems, and his lust for the beautiful Blanche knows no bounds.