Romance and oater-style action on the Erie Canal in its heyday--with black-hatted villains plotting to scuttle the brave and beautiful. Catherine ""Cat"" Carnahan and her boozing widower-father Mick, along with young Timmie, their ""hoggee"" (the lad who drives the towline donkeys), keep the Carnahan's Cat a-lading and a-barging--despite the dirty doings of ""King"" Simon Maphis, whose letchings Cat once turned down. But things look up when Cat rescues handsome Morgan Kane from a gang of thugs. Morgan throws in his lot with the Cat, making gentlemanly advances; Cat purrs. And before long they're headed for a ""sunburst of ecstasy"" below decks. Morgan, however, has not told Cat about his secret mission: investigating the illegal lottery business and nailing operators like smooth-talking Tate Brawley--who are raking in lottery-loot in cahoots with big-time crooks Meanwhile, too, there are complications caused by Reverend Pryon, an unpleasant missionary, and his randy daughter Lotte--who vibrates to Morgan's rugged charms. Worse yet, Timmie is jealous, his love for Cat turning to hate! So, though Morgan and Cat prevent Silas from torching the Cat, soon Cat gives Morgan his walking papers because she catches him selling lottery tickets. (He never gets around to explaining that he's doing this just to get inside the lottery ring.) Both change partners: Morgan rescues Lotte from the advances of a traveling peddler and is rewarded with some virtuoso love-making; Cat helps good Dr. Anthony Mason on his hospital boat--bringing on some gentle love and sex. But then, after the Cat is chopped up by the villains and Morgan interrupts a rigged lottery drawing, True Love triumphs. . . through a Cat-napping, a rescue, and a race from Albany to Buffalo Froth on a Disneyworld Erie--from the author of Dancer of Dreams and other breathy period-romances.