Magic, and four decades of unrequited love, form the plot of McBride’s latest pajama-party read.
The novel opens as a twister approaches the farm at Walnut Ridge. After Gretchen and her blind twin sisters Bennie and Trudy climb unscathed from the basement, they discover the storm hit only their property and deposited a mystery: a shaggy man who has no memory but looks an awful lot like Sam Winston, disappeared and thought dead the past 40 years. Sam is the grandson of Hank Littlefoot, a Native American born of the rez but who, as a teenager, gave up his destiny as a shaman and rainmaker to hit the boards in a traveling vaudeville show. Hank’s act is an Injun rain dance; the crowd is always thrilled, and his sweetheart, Nadya (the magician’s assistant), notices the streets are wet when they leave the theater. When asked to really make it rain by a desperate farmer, Hank brings a terrific storm, sealing his reputation. Hank’s earnings make it possible to buy an old walnut farm, but the effort of rainmaking takes a terrible toll: After the storms, he becomes amnesiac and debilitated and has aged beyond his 20-odd years; in a matter of months, he transforms into an old man with a stoop and silver hair. Hank’s daughter Lily has no such talents, but her son Sam has, and teenage Sam loves Gretchen. The farm could be his, but when Gretchen rejects him and confesses a one-night stand has made her pregnant (with a daughter, Amy), Sam goes to Africa as a relief worker. When tragedy befalls Sam, Gretchen tells a lie to soothe his grieving parents. She and baby Abby inherit the farm. Now, 40 years later, Abby has returned home pregnant, and the mystery man seems as if he will either crush everyone’s hopes or spin a happy ending.
McBride’s modern romance is enhanced by the charm of the supernatural—who doesn’t love a hottie whose passion brings lightning—but that doesn’t prevent the predictability of the plotting.