Macdonald's been burning the midnight oil over the last few years, producing a plump new historical romance or saga annually since 1985 (and five before that, including The World from Rough Stones). While his last several novels have disappointed, his newest show signs of life. . . It's the story of Johanna Rosewarne, a Cornish lass with the magical coloring and wild spirit of a Celtic witch, living as a servant in the house of her only relatives--Uncle John Visick (who likes to beat Jo's bare bottom), his whining wife, and three daughters. When Tony Moore, a dapper young doctor from Plymouth, comes to court the eldest Visick girl, Selina, Jo unintentionally steals his heart away from her cousin, and thus is forced to flee into the open arms of a wealthy and rather decadent widow, Nina Brooks. Nina falls under Jo's spell, too, explaining that "there is something rare in her that engages an almost immediate intimacy of the spirit"; then, however, Jo meets the virile engineer Hal Penrose, and her mad passion for him forces other suitors to stand aside. Before he sails off to America to make a fortune for Jo, he gets her pregnant. So she must make her own way, starting a brewery, helping Dr. Moore open a clinic, coming to the aid of local whores, and faithfully penning letters to Hal, who's struck gold in California. But when Hal at last comes home, Macdonald masterminds a surprising romantic switcheroo, which leaves Jo with the fellow who's stood by her all along. Macdonald is as long-winded as ever, but his readers should find reason to stay with him--or with Jo, a character they'll take a shine to.