IN THE MIDNIGHT RAIN was my first mainstream novel, a book that was published under my romance pseudonym, Ruth Wind. It was a hard reach for me at that time, a long book with stories in the past and present. There is a dog, April. There is music–the blues, which I love with a madness I’ve never been able to quantify. There is a beautiful, lost Southern man who grows orchids. And there is a community of women. It was a RITA finalist, and a favorite book on many lists.
It is more of a romance than some of my women’s fiction, but not much more than A Piece of Heaven or The Secret of Everything. Here is what people said about it at the time:
“Intriguing and absorbing.” – Sandra Kitt, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS
“In her mainstream debut, Ms. Wind blows away much of the competition with a remarkable rousing drama that touches the inner soul of the reader.” – Harriet Klausner, Book Browser Reviews
“Stunning! Powerful! Eloquent! Emotional! These are just a few of the words I’d use to describe this wonderful story. To say I loved it is a huge understatement. Ruth Wind has written a gem of a book for her breakout novel” – Kate O’Connell
“A multiple RITA award winner, Wind (aka Barbara Samuel), has many strengths that show well in “Midnight Rain.” With La Vyrle Spencer’s retirement, Wind/Samuel inherits the crown as the Queen of Heartfelt Emotion. Wind is more consistent than Spencer, indeed, than most, and her contemporary heroines are more complicated and interesting. She also gracefully delves into cultural territory that publishers often discourage romance writers from entering. Issues of race, ethnicity and class form the solid backbone of many of Wind’s novels. “In the Midnight Rain” traverses the social landscapes of an integrated east Texas small town with respect and love.” – Lynn Coddington, Contra Costa Times
from the back cover…
LOOKING FOR THE PAST… 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.
…COULD MEAN HER FUTURE
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?
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
My grandmother has been telling me stories as along as I can remember, and the weft and warp of those stories was never woven in fairy tales or proverbs. Her method of instruction has always been tales of sin and redemption from real life–the triumphs and falls of women and men who were tempted and seduced by the wide array of sins–and how they paid if they fell, or how they triumphed if they resisted.
She never hurried through them–they’re laced with details as rich as one of her pecan pies–washed with a moody Southern quality and a thick kind of light. As a child, I loved doing any kind of kitchen chore with her because I knew she’d start telling stories. I lived for that sudden shift in her cornflower blue eyes, that slight unfocusing on the present as she looked the past and she would begin, “I remember when…”
Even better than the stories of sin and temptation, I loved the ones about people who had tried to do the right thing, and only made things worse. My grandma would say it was the finger of God, teaching a lesson, and we should be thankful, but I always privately wondered just exactly how you could manage to be thankful if God kept knocking you over with that finger.
There’s plenty of sin and redemption, temptation and triumph, in MIDNIGHT RAIN, which was born out of those long hours doing chores at my grandma’s side. Ellie Connor, tough and earnest, smart and vulnerable, arrives in the little East Texas town of Pine Bend to uncover the secrets of a mysterious and beautiful woman who disappeared more than a generation ago–and also do a little poking around about the mysteries of her own life. It’s there, in the sleepy, haunted little town that Ellie also finds Blue Reynard, a man as beautiful as he is lost, with a whisky-dark voice and a dangerously seductive understanding of the secrets of a woman’s heart. Blue is everything Ellie has vowed to avoid, and everything she can’t resist.
This is a story about community, about discovery and loss and the way we each find a way to get through those long rainy nights that fall in every life. It’s most especially a very sexy, emotional romance, and I hope you’ll enjoy as much I enjoyed writing it.
Oh, and by the way, Grandma makes an appearance. Bet you won’t have any trouble at all recognizing her.