Thursday, April 12, 2007

In The Midnight Rain by Ruth Wind

Great book.


Ellie Connor is a biographer with a special talent for piecing together fragments of the past. Her latest project, though, promises to be her most challenging--and personal. Not only is she researching the life of a blues singer who disappeared mysteriously forty years ago, but Ellie is also trying to find the truth about the parents she never knew. The love child of a restless woman who died young and an anonymous father, Ellie has little to go on but a faded postcard her mother sent from a small, East Texas town--the hometown of her latest subject.


It is there that Ellie meets Blue Reynard, a man with deep roots and wide connections who may help her find answers. With a piercing gaze and cool grin, Blue is as sultry and seductive as the Southern night air. Beneath his charming surface, however, lies as soul damaged by loss. Despite her better judgment, Ellie finds herself irresistibly drawn to Blue's passion--and his pain. But Ellie's been lured by sweet talk and hot kisses before. How can she possibly stay with Blue when every instinct tells her to run?

In The Midnight Rain made it to my TBR list by way of a blogger review sometime a year or more ago. No idea whose, but thank you.

Wind (aka Barbara Samuel) gives us a tortured hero opposite a pragmatic heroine. But instead of following formula to the letter, she bucks the trend and allows the hero to straighten up pretty much on his own. Of course he is motivated by the love of a good woman, but Wind manages to avoid presentation of the heroine as ‘healer’—a role she doesn’t really want. That emotional matter-of-factness appealed to me. In both hero and heroine.

Blue is best described as ‘unexpected’—from both heroine and reader POV. Where Ellie expects a stodgy old professor, she finds a young and handsome playboy. When Ellie suspects him of being a commitment phobe drowning his grief in a bottle, he surprises her with an intelligence and accountability strong enough to offset his flirtatiousness. For readers expecting the damaged hero storyline, Wind downplays the damage and deftly shifts focus to the story’s mystery.

The mystery winds its way throughout the story beautifully. Instead of feeling like plot, it feels more like another character with its own fate—a character making its own way in its own time without the feel of a calculated pace. And the astounding way in which Wind ties that fate or destination to Ellie was unexpected and absolutely perfect.

Ellie is very much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person. Wind’s no nonsense characterization of her turns out to be a clever and powerful contrast to the story’s outcome. Ellie is independent, a pretty modern thinker and pragmatic to her core. Watching Wind unravel her—as opposed to the attention we expected her to pay Blue—was interesting. And believable. It was a great show of how emotion—regardless of how ‘controlled’—can overtake even the most self-honest of us.

Wind’s use of music and setting to underscore the emotion of this story is also worthy of mention. Both tie to an overall sense of hope tinged with melancholy. The music, well, it’s the blues. Easy to see how it added feeling. But I do have to say that when the characters are overcome by the music, I thought to myself “she gets it, she really gets it.” The setting, a hot and hazy Texas summer, contributed that ‘never want it to end’ feeling dating back to our school days, the wish to suspend yourself in time right here, where everything is perfect. For now.

I found another of those “she gets it” moments in Wind’s summary of grief.

There was a craziness in that kind of pain he didn’t wish on anyone, and he’d been desperate to escape it.
And another…

On this cool golden morning, having left his wife and his children asleep in the house they shared, Marcus touched the big letter J carved into the black granite and felt a sorrow he would never reconcile.

She so gets that such sorrow never truly abates and recognizes the ability of the human spirit to simply bear up under it. After reading Wind's "The Story Behind The Story", I can see why and how Wind was able to capture and convey this wisdom.

A great book. With emotional depth, sex appeal and an interesting journey to an unexpected truth. I would highly recommend it.


  1. What a great review Jennifer! I've read some of Wind's category romances but haven't read her single titles yet. I've jotted this down to look for now. I'm a frequent visitor to Barbara Samuel's blog. She writes some interesting stuff there.

  2. Wow... now I'm going to have to try Ruth Wind. *SIGH* It's not as if my TBR stack isn't big enough... but hey, what's one more? LOL

  3. Sounds awesome! When I emerge from yet another 60 hour work week, I'll add this onto my TBR.

    Thanks, Jen. And Happy Birthday! (need to let our friends weho visit all our sites know it's your BD!)

  4. Hey Ladies -

    Rosie - Thanks for the tip about Samuel's blog; I'm liking it! I'm also trying to figure out what I want to read (from her) next. I'm not a big fan of categories.

    Anne and Lori - What is one more book in your busy lives? *g* Really though, this one is worth jotting down as a future read. If I didn't have to send it back to the library, it would already be on its way to you. *g*


Have you read it? What do you think?

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