Writer and music lover Ellie Connor travels to the small, close-knit town of Pine Bend in eastern Texas to conduct research and write a biography on Mabel Beauvais, a blues singer who mysteriously disappeared in 1952 just as she was about to embark upon a successful music career. But Ellie also has a hidden agenda. Armed with the knowledge that her late, flower-child mother spent a summer in Pine Bend - the summer Ellie was conceived - she also hopes her journey will reveal some clues to her own past, and hopefully lead her to the father she never knew.
Ellie arranges to stay in the guest house of Blue Reynard, a tortured soul whose life has been filled with tragedy and loss. From the moment Ellie and Blue meet, an undeniable and irresistible attraction develops. Despite their best efforts, they are unable to keep their realtionship platonic. Colorful and engaging secondary characters assist Ellie and Blue in their journey as they team up to solve the mystery of Mabel, and search for clues to Ellie's past. All the while, local residents are still trying to come to terms with the pain caused by the inordinate amount of young men the town lost to the Vietnam War.
Before they can have their happily ever after, however, both Blue and Ellie have pasts they must reconcile and wounds they must heal.
This book was fabulous. Blue Reynard is the epitome of the scarred, tortured hero, and I wanted to reach into the book just to touch him. The vivid, deep, and entertaining cast of characters MADE this book. They felt like genuine, REAL, people. The writing is beautiful and the dialogue is excellent. The descriptions are so vivid, I could almost taste
the southern fried chicken, feel
the heat of a Texas summer, and smell
the heavy rain in the air. The love that develops between Ellie and Blue was genuine and real. The romance, along with the two mysteries to solve, set against the backdrop of race relations in the mid-century South and the Vietnam War made for a wonderful work of fiction that I couldn't put down until it was done!