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Joel Burcat
Reap the Wind
Joel Burcat, author
REAP THE WIND is an action and adventure thriller wrapped in a climate change-induced hurricane. It has strong elements of family drama and romantic suspense. Josh Goldberg is a lawyer at a Philadelphia law firm attending a firm marketing function at The Four Seasons Hotel in Houston. His eight-months pregnant fiancé, Keisha, has come along for a last “baby-moon” at the five-star hotel. A monumental hurricane, caused by climate change, approaches Houston and Keisha decides to head back to Philly ahead of the worst of the storm to be near her doctor and mother. Josh is leading a panel on climate change and is stuck in Houston for the remainder of program. Keisha’s flight is diverted to Cincinnati, where she passes out at the airport and lands in the hospital. Josh and Keisha are one thousand miles apart during the worst of the hurricane. He is afraid for her health and that she might give birth at any moment. There will be no flights for days so Josh manages to rent a car—a Lincoln Town Car limo—from a friend. Josh convinces Geoff, his best friend at the firm, who has a serious alcohol and drug abuse problem, to keep him company on the trip, at least as far as Geoff’s sister’s home in Nashville. Josh’s department head, Diane, must be in Philly in two days for a meeting with a Norwegian billionaire who wants to buy a chemical refinery and is interviewing Diane to be his outside counsel. It’s a huge opportunity for Diane and she wants to hijack the trip. At the same time, she has a romantic interest in Josh. Josh makes it clear he has no interest in Diane and he must drive directly to Cincinnati, not Philly. Diane does not give up on either of her plans. In Cincinnati, Keisha’s doctor, Dr. Anthony Sudor, turns out to be the man who was the love of her life before she met Josh. He pursues her despite her pregnancy and despite her engagement to Josh. In addition to wanting to be with her if she gives birth, part of Josh’s motivation to get to Cincinnati is to rescue Keisha from Dr. Sudor. To get to Keisha, the trio must drive from Houston to Cincinnati through a monumental hurricane. They travel through driving rain and epic winds. Then they confront a tornado, barely surviving the ordeal. A hail storm with golf-ball sized hail, nearly kills them. Also, driving though tiny Texas towns they must deal with unsavory locals who try to waylay them. They are confronted by rip-off artists, when they are hoping for good Samaritans. Also, Geoff manages to overdose in a restaurant restroom and Josh must save his life. Throughout the trip, Diane begins executing her shocking plans for Josh. The trip is like driving through the gates of hell. The story switches back and forth from the road to Cincinnati, where Keisha’s doctor and former boyfriend is using all of his powers to win her back. Keisha is a confused young woman who doesn’t yet know what she wants for her life and is oscillating between her love and loyalty for Josh and the excitement and potential of Anthony. Careful readers will note this is a modern-day Odyssey. Events and characters parallel some of those found in Homer’s masterpiece. REAP THE WIND is THE PERFECT STORM meets THE FIRM.
A powerful hurricane shuts down much of the Midwest in this surprising thriller, and attorney Josh Goldberg and colleagues find themselves on an odyssey driving from Houston to Cincinnati, where his heavily pregnant fianceé, Keisha, is stranded. Josh faces a turning point in his career as he contemplates impending fatherhood. Meanwhile Keisha's obstetrician turns out to be old boyfriend Anthony, and long-hidden feelings start to surface. The violence of the storm threatens the lives of Josh and his companions. But even worse is his relationship with his boss, firm partner Diane, whose hard-driving attitude Josh finds increasingly repellent. Can Josh and Keisha physically—and psychologically—survive both storm and pregnancy?

An environmental lawyer like Josh, Burcat (Strange Fire) has a pitch-perfect ear for the horrific and compelling interplay among attorneys in a major firm as well as the tense rhythms of a hospital caught up in an ongoing crisis. He proves equally good with the weather descriptions, elevating the storm system into something like a well-developed antagonist. The story moves at a fast clip, with a lot of action: as Josh and the other lawyers fight their way through the destruction, the book even takes on a Homeric tone. And although the frequent switch between first- and third-person can be jarring at times, the tale itself always keeps the reader's attention.

Although the emphasis is on the journey, Burcat’s characterization ensures that we see the personalities change along with the weather. Josh's first-person voice comes through clearly, especially his love for Keisha and weariness with his work. At the same time, we see Keisha fighting her own struggles, as what starts as a love triangle turns into some soul-searching. Most interesting is Diane, as Burcat shows just how deeply her soul has been damaged by her ambition. The ending is entirely unexpected—and yet satisfying, leaving the readers pleased they met Josh and the other characters, and hoping they weather whatever comes next.

Takeaway: A lawyer braves a hurricane and his colleagues to reach his pregnant girlfriend.

Comparable Titles: Taylor Adams’s No Exit, Samantha Jayne Allen’s Hard Rain.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-