A Native American may be destined to find the love of her life and become her tribe’s most powerful medicine woman in 200 years in this debut romance novel.
Kay Baker, who grew up outside her Clatsop tribe, enjoys life as a New York artist. Her parents’ deaths in a car accident, however, take her back to Ilwaco, her Washington state hometown. Kay doesn’t believe in fate, but this may change when she meets Sam Morandi, a neighbor helping her care for her Alzheimer’s-ridden grandmother, Hannah. Sam’s the spitting image of Motorcycle Man from a series Kay painted back in New York. She also realizes that her mother may have had the power to see the future. Kay has that, too, and then some: she learns she’s a legendary medicine woman, or keelalle, with further abilities of healing and controlling the weather. Destiny, it seems, has something in store for her, and she’ll have to wait to see what that is. The novel, despite Kay’s apparent supernatural capabilities, doesn’t play like a fantasy. Manthey aptly focuses on the dramatic overtones, starting with Kay coming to terms with her new existence. She, for example, doesn’t just lose her parents, but her New York life as well, since she’d promised her mom not to put Hannah in a nursing home. Her powers, too, aren’t otherworldly, as they’re often tied to her loved ones, such as predicting a friend’s undiagnosed cancer or creating a snowstorm when saddened by recent losses. Kay and Sam fall in love rather quickly, but the notion that they’re likely soul mates gives credence to their swift romance. And there’s plenty of starry-eyed moments: “In love, all things are possible,” says John Lane, the tribe’s council chairman, after Kay’s thoughts of Sam explain why the snow may be melting. Where Kay’s destiny takes her is something Manthey saves until the end. This includes her fascinating back story: she’s a descendent of Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark), but the historical claim that Lewis died childless has erased her lineage. Lewis’ missing journal pages and his possible murder, meanwhile, add a dash of mystery to the plot.
There’s magic in an artist’s newfound powers, but it’s her fated love that’s truly magical.