As the book begins, Jeremiah Thurston is the richest man in California, having made a fortune with the land and mines in Napa Valley he inherited from his father. Jeremiah had planned to marry when he was younger, but she died and a close friend finally convinces him it's time for a wife and an heir. He meets a very young southern belle during a business trip, and despite the huge gap in their ages it seems to be a love match. Or at least Jeremiah's dumb enough to think it is and he builds her a huge mansion in San Francisco and brings his young bride home (home should be Napa Valley, but Camille's having none of that).
Well just as quick as you can guess where this part of the storyline is going
[spoiler] Camille is bored with her husband and wants to be the bell of society, takes a lover (who unbeknownst to her is poor) and leaves poor Jeremiah high and dry with just a daughter behind to dote on [/spoiler]. The second part is the daughter's story, as she has to work in a man's world to carry on her father's business concerns. Just as quick as you can guess where that part of the storyline is going [spoiler] she marries her much older business rival (what is it with the older men, can Steel not come up with a new trope?), has a kid and the older husband bites the bullet.[/spoiler]
Part three happens years later when the son has grown up to be a spoiled snot-nosed young punk who thinks he deserves every privilege even when times are tough, and just as soon as you can guess where this part of the storyline is headed, he [spoiler]
teams up with the long-dead (or presumed to be dead) wife of Jeremiah and makes life miserable for mom.[/spoiler]
The end. Don't bother.