A novel in a new vein by the team that did Show Me a Land --and the best book they have done since then. Good recapturing of a period of 100 years and more ago, in the colorful, burgeoning river port of Louisville- a lusty frontier of civilization- a central character, nicknamed Gaudy, who starts his career as a waif adopted by an itinerant theatrical troop, and ultimately becomes a powerful figure in the river boatyards and trade. He early knew the river was his true love, and through a succession of gambles- successful and disastrous- he won his right to respect as a river baron. His ""ladies"" were as varied -- and many of them as innocent- as his many interests, but one passion dominated his life, and at the end of the book, though he has turned away from a chance again, one has no sense of finality. Neil, daughter of the rich, weak owner of a shipyard that seemed big to ragged young Gaudy, was a childhood love; in her unstable, moody, spoiled maturity, she overplayed her hand -- and lost. Lots of incident, fast-paced story, less contrived than some of their earlier work- and destined for upper drawer rentals and sales to men as well as women who want just a good story, authentic in background.