Gavan Dymun runs out of money while completing a UCLA law degree, and gets a job as a probation officer in Carson, LA.
His caseload includes Ana Matutumua, a girl who’s being harassed by Frank Curnow, a cop who’d worked with her father, a drug importer, who thinks that Ana’s father owes him a lot of money, and that Ana knows where he is. He provokes Ana into pushing him, and arrests her for assault on a police officer.
Her legal trouble infuriates her, and so does the fact that at her sentencing Gavan did something she didn’t understand to keep her out of jail, and that her father didn’t help her.
As a kind of protest she shoplifts a broach, and is again arrested.
Gavan becomes her probation officer, and realizes what’s happening with Curnow. While trying to keep Ana out of legal trouble he becomes more attracted to her. He falls in love.
Ana is aware of his desire, and is both flattered and amused by it, and by the fact that he’s not allowed to do anything about it. She loves him too, but since he refuses to act, winding him up is fun, too.
Sa’afia, Ana’s cousin, goes to a party with Ana and meets Gavan. She sees him throw another boy at Ana, and mistakenly assumes he’s heart-broken. They talk, but it’s only when Sa’afia realizes Gavan is the probation officer Ana has been teasing that she really likes him. They take a taxi to his place.
Over succeeding chapters they are drawn into sexual experimentation, based on desires Sa’afia knew she had but never expected to practice, and that Gavan had not suspected in himself. She starts addressing him as “Sir”. He adjusts to his new responsibilities with a troubled conscience but remarkably easily.
Ana is somewhat jealous of her cousin for having Gavan, but still flirts with him mercilessly, and relies on him for help with the police.
Curnow assaults her, to show he can, and steps up his campaign to get her to tell him where her father is. She does not know, and in any case wouldn’t tell him.
Gavan, with help from policewoman June Sevigny, discovers that Curnow intends to frame Ana for possession of a dealing quantity of cocaine. He ruins the attempt to plant drugs at her apartment, with help from former almost-girlfriend Jane Seidel, a lawyer with the Community Law Centre.
Curnow is suspended. Charges against Ana are dropped. An associate of Curnow’s, who’d attempted to rape Ana, is gruesomely killed by a brain-damaged man who worships Ana, who has been giving him food.
Sa’afia and Gavan, now a couple, arrive at Ana’s to take her out to dinner to celebrate her release from legal troubles.
(Is there a sequel? Why, yes! There are two. The first of them is mostly written. But you’ll just have to wait.)