Twenty-seven year old journalist Katie O'Connell seems to be living the perfect life with new husband, Rhode Island Man of the Year. She has it all: a whaling captain's mansion, a job she enjoys and a sailing yacht. Jeff O'Connell, a charismatic business leader, has swept her off her feet and whisked her from California to Rhode Island and a speedy wedding. The marriage is her dream come true until one month after their wedding, to her astonishment, Jeff brings his four children from his first marriage home to live with them. Running contrary to his often stated feminist views, Jeff's expectation that she quit her writer/columnist job at a newspaper to look after them and his rigid control of their finances, stuns Katie. Soon she suspects that her rush to the altar was part of a duplicitous plan to have a mother figure ready and waiting for the previously planned secret arrival of his children. Meanwhile, behind the walls of their historic home, Jeff, a Dr. Jekyl hero to the outside world becomes a Mr. Hyde at home swaying easily from charming lover to raging autocrat. He explodes regularly, throwing objects across rooms, pushing his fist through walls, and attacking and injuring Katie when she opposes him. What follows is a struggle to free herself from Jeff that ultimately drags Katie into his world of deceit, adultery and danger.

Tiny red veins speckled his cheeks; his forehead gleamed with perspiration. Katie moved away from the upward shove of his shoulders. Backing herself against a closet door, she said, “I was only gone an hour. ” He slapped his hand to the sliding door just above her shoulder. Ducking under his arm and maneuvering around him she heard his heavy feet behind her as she made a dash for the staircase. Halfway down the stairs, she heard the thud of a shoe smacking hard against delicate banister poles. She let go of the railing, reeled around and stepped back from the sound of old mahogany cracking and the smell of wood being torn apart. Now flattened against the opposite wall, she looked over her shoulder at Jeff whose knee was already bent and raised to land another blow sideways with the sole of his shoe.
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