|The groundbreaking story centers on Renay, a talented black musician who is forced by pregnancy to marry the abusive, alcoholic Jerome Lee. When Jerome sells Renay's piano to finance his drinking, she leaves her destructive marriage, and flees with her young daughter to Terry, a wealthy white writer whom she met at a supper club. Terry awakens in Renay a love and sexual desire beyond her erotic imaginings. Despite the sexist, racist, and homophobic prejudices they must confront, the mutually supportive couple finds physical and emotional joy.When Jerome discovers the nature of Renay and Terry's friendship, he beats Renay nearly to death and, in a drunken rage, kidnaps his daughter, who subsequently dies in a car accident. Grief stricken and guilty about her love for Terry, Renay feels that God has punished her and breaks off their relationship to atone for her "sins." In the end, she returns to Terry and a renewed life.