Since Sloan Gabriel won an American Idol–like reality show, her lifelong dream of fame and fortune has come true.
In the all-white world (save an Asian doctor) of McDaniel’s latest, 23-year-old Sloan is country music’s rising star. Her future is bright, and she refuses to look back at her old life in Windemere, Tennessee, where she grew up fatherless and with an alcoholic mother. Unfortunately, it appears Windemere won’t let go. When Sloan receives a letter from Lindsey Sloan Ridley, a woman who claims to be her half sister (Sloan was their father’s surname), she finds herself back in that rural Tennessee town. Lindsey is a cheerful and “courageous” stage 4 cancer patient who grew up with their famous musician father, and she can give Sloan some insight into his motives for leaving Sloan and her mother when Sloan was little. Also in Windemere, Sloan reconnects with Dawson and Alana, two old friends with whom she shares a painful past (a past referred to time and again and covered in full in Losing Gabriel, 2016). Before long, Sloan is forming a deep familial bond with Lindsey and Lindsey’s young son, Toby. She also fights her burgeoning lust for Lindsey’s neighbor, the ruggedly irresistible EMT Cole Langston. Major drawbacks include loads of back story, a narrative heavily marred by jarring switches in the third-person perspective at the paragraph level, and the conflation of alcoholism and “sleeping around” with poverty-stricken trailer-park life. Still, there’s no denying McDaniel’s command of her material.
Standard inspirational romance by a genre master. (Fiction. 13-17)