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In 1850, Jonathan Thomas, a young, personable, and aristocratic Southern gentleman, has returned to his antebellum home from an Ivy League school in the North. His father is dying and Jonathan is sole heir to the family's lavish prosperous, and renowned Rainbow Plantation. While up North, two major revelations had seriously shaken his self-image. His exposure to Northern abolitionism had permanently shaken his outlook on slavery, the South's peculiar institution. Worse, he had begun to believe he might be a sodomite, a most wretched creature reviled by the customs of nineteenth-century American society.

When he tours the plantation grounds for the first time in years, he sees that his boyhood playmate, a slave named Kumi, has matured into a black Adonis. Jonathan is instantly captivated. Now he is convinced he is a sodomite, and even worse, he is hopelessly smitten over a slave.

As he grapples with his sexual proclivity and the peculiar institution, he befriends Steven Wentworth, a social non-conformist living an esoteric lifestyle, who has a deep, hidden connection to him. Under Steven's progressive influence, and from another unlikely source-the Bible-Jonathan is able to unravel his demons and triumph in the end.

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