Catherine Fane’s whole life had been centered on Annie Fane, the grandmother who raised her. Just prior to her death, Annie confesses to Catherine that they are not related by blood. She makes Catherine promise to return her remains to the rural Kentucky town she had once fled to save Catherine’s life.
Catherine returns her grandmother to a place where “people were raised with prejudice, steeped in religion, and practiced superstitions on a daily basis.” Because the town believed that Annie had been a witch, they view Catherine with similar suspicion. Their fears are reinforced when, the day after Catherine’s arrival, a cow gives birth to a deformed calf. The owner of the cow, one of many who had refused to help Catherine transport her grandmother’s casket up the mountain, is certain it is retribution -- the product of evil spell.
Catherine is determined to learn the truth about her past. Sheriff Luke DePriest, the one man who agrees to help her, has found unexpected meaning in the phrase love at first sight. He now stands as Catherine’s sole protector in a hostile town whose blood feuds and dark secrets pose unknown perils. And unraveling the truth about her past could place her in even greater danger.
McCall’s love stories are characterized by their gentleness, and this one is no exception. It moves along in tandem with the progression of the storyline. The characters in The Return are masterfully drawn with many dimensions and levels of depth; and the dialogue is so appropriate to the voice of the characters that the reader for these fleeting pages is transported to the time and place when feuds were common and witches were reviled.
As violent as it is in places, The Return is not a gritty suspense story. It is, instead, a tale told with great tenderness. In the end, it is the strength of the characterizations and the emotional power of McCall’s storytelling that make The Return a definite recommend.