A chance meeting in Rio takes Maria to Geneva, where she dreams of finding fame and fortune, yet ends up working the streets as a prostitute. In Geneva, Maria drifts further and further away from love while at the same time developing a fascination with sex. Eventually, Maria's despairing view of love is put to the test when she meets a handsome young painter. In this odyssey of self-discovery, Maria has to choose between pursuing a path of darkness, sexual pleasure for its own sake, or risking everything to find her own 'inner light' and the possibility of sacred sex, sex in the context of love. Paulo Coelho sensitively explores the nature of sex and love in his gripping and daring new novel.