The legend of Lord Byron--here called Lord Halyard--has been rousted out for a brief gothic twirl. Young Catherine, commonly known as Cat, daughter of a former war buddy of the Duke of Wellington, has been raised on a lonely Spanish coast, where she one day finds a handsome shipwrecked victim and nurses him to life. The amnesia which afflicts the stranger gradually dissipates, but not before the two are wed. He turns out to be Lord Halyard, lionized poet, peer, erstwhile rake, and. . . pervert? Halyard brings Cat through London (where rumors are rife) to the family seat, Longfields--which has the obligatory sealed-off wing. There Cat must confront some ugly gossip and her own doubts having to do with the family crypt, wife-murder, a hidden bastard, and the Lord's unnatural love of. . . a sister? But both the sister and Halyard's first wife seem to be dead. . . or are they? And who is the mother of the darling terrified child, undoubtedly Halyard's, whom Cat takes under her wing? And what has caused the change in Halyard, once so loving but now so nasty? It takes about two-score pages finally to untangle the mess, and ""it was then that the first shot rang out. . . . ""From one of the genre's Annie Oakleys--dumb but slick as a whisker.