Rose Morgan teaches a course in Romantic Literature at Columbia University, but doesn't have any romance in her own life. Passion is something she desperately longs for. Gregory Larkin, who teaches mathematics at the same university, has been hurt by passionate relationships and longs for a sexless union based on friendship and respect with someone he's not sexually attracted to. Through an act of deception typical of Rose's near amoral sister, Greg and Rose meet. They are decidedly different in virtually every way, but find one another deliriously compelling. Rebelling against customary modern pressures, they form an unorthodox marital arrangement in which intellectual passion supplants sexual heat. The contract has an air of nobility, yet it negates some basic human needs. They will come to learn that two people who meet, marry and remain celibate are courting confusion and chaos--especially if one of them undergoes a major change that messes up their carefully concocted equation.