It’s love at first sight when US Naval Officer Jamie Morrison meets Caterina Lo Gado, the beautiful daughter of an aristocratic wine-making family, at an opera in Sicily. Their passionate love unfolds amidst the Sicilian backdrop. Marrying after a tantalizing year, they move to Boston, Philadelphia and then Atlanta where Jamie’s multi-million dollar sales career reaches a crisis. While pursuing a huge contract, he’s sorely tempted by his voluptuous, young PA, and he encounters an autocratic and unethical customer chief executive. Will these two individuals wreck his marriage and his career? William Peace is a semi-retired management consultant and ex-corporate executive who has shifted his emphasis to writing. He spent four years as a US Naval Officer, and he has also worked for Westinghouse selling steam turbine-generators. William resides in London, England with his wife; they have a summer villa on the north coast of Sicily.
At a performance of ‘Rigoletto’ in Palermo, Sicily, in June 1992, Jamie Morrison meets Caterina Lo Gado, the tall, beautiful daughter of an aristocratic Sicilian wine-producing family. Jamie is a lieutenant assigned to the USS Barry, a guided missile frigate which is in Palermo for shore leave. Next day, they have lunch together and she takes him on a walking tour of Palermo. Caterina, who speaks good English, and her father come aboard the Barry for dinner; her father reciprocates with dinner at Villa Lo Gado. After dinner, Caterina and Jamie slip into the garden for a moment of intimacy. He promises to return in August.
The scene shifts to Atlanta in 2004 where Jamie is national sales manager for Ceemans steam turbine-generator business. We meet his pretty secretary, Mary Beth, a bright, vivacious and well-endowed girl. We learn that Mid America Power has plans to purchase two turbine-generators each rated 1,500,000 kilowatts and valued at almost $300 million. To differentiate from competition and to provide the customer with operating advantages, Jamie proposes a compact design with a very large generator, which Ceemans bids as an alternative.
In August 1992, Jamie returns to Sicily for ten days during which he and Caterina fall in love, and she accepts his proposal of marriage. Caterina’s autocratic mother decrees a wedding date in May 1993. In the meantime, Jamie resigns from the U S Navy, and accepts a training position with Ceemans. He returns to Sicily for brief visits in October and February; she travels to Philadelphia to meet his family at Christmas and Easter. After the wedding, the couple settle in Boston, where Caterina has her two daughters, and Jamie progresses from inside sales engineer to senior outside sales engineer. In June 1998, Jamie is appointed a district manager in the Philadelphia office. Caterina is very happy in Philadelphia, in part because of her relationship with Jamie’s mother, who loves Caterina, and sees her as the daughter she never had. Caterina, influenced by her religious convictions and her culture, decides to have her son, who has Down’s syndrome. While they are living in Philadelphia, Jamie’s brother, John, develops bone cancer, and loses his leg, wins his U S Congressional election, and nearly loses his pretty and sexy French girlfriend, Michele. Bruce, Jamie’s father, a prominent anti-trust lawyer, contracts pancreatic cancer and goes through a religious crisis before his death.
In 2002, Caterina, Jamie and the children move to Atlanta, a city where Caterina is very unhappy, in large measure because of Jamie’s constant travelling. He promises her that if he does not win the Mid America order and promotion, he will look for a new job elsewhere. In 2004, we follow Jamie as he works on selling the Mid America project to the customer, where Clive Archer is the key decision-maker, and to the engineers at Commonwealth Engineering. There are fishing and hunting trips, during which Jamie learns that Clive is preoccupied with getting his grandson admitted to New England Institute of Technology. Clive offers Jamie the order in return for a $1 million scholarship to NEIT for his grandson. Ceemans refuses, but a French competitor accepts the offer and wins the business.
Mary Beth’s provocative teasing, and the knowledge that she has had a one-night stand with a friend of his, influences Jamie to buy her a $500 gold bracelet. Caterina discovers this, and, in her rage, she confronts Jamie, who admits he wanted to sleep with Mary Beth. Later, in a meeting with Mary Beth, Caterina discovers that it was her relationship with Jamie which both needs improvement and was the obstacle to Mary Beth accepting Jamie in her bed. Returning home, Caterina engages in an elaborate seduction of Jamie, and proves to herself that she has become a sensual woman.
There are several scenes where the Ceemans people find out exactly what happened at Mid America. During an annual ball at Boca Raton, Jamie and Eric Hammerschmidt, President Ceemans America, confront both the customer and the French competitor. Eric is impressed with Jamie’s performance during the Mid America negotiation, and with Caterina and Jamie’s social skills with customer executives and their wives. He decides to offer Jamie the vacant position of VP, Atlantic Region, located in Philadelphia.