Under a Dark Summer Sky is set in Florida in 1935 in a small town struggling with the effects of the Depression and at the time of the great hurricane. The racially charged narrative swirls around Missy, with her courageous dedication to duty, who works for the Kincaid family; Henry, a long-absent WWI soldier who still loves Missy, the girl he left behind; Henry's sister and Missy's friend, Selma, with her no-nonsense approach to crises; and Sheriff Dwayne Campbell, whose duty is to protect Henry but who has personal reasons for wanting Henry to suffer.
From the tense opening chapter, this atmospheric story is beautifully constructed and seductive. Vanessa is a natural storyteller who vividly evokes the landscape, the climate, and the people sweating under the broiling Florida sun and the weight of past decisions. As they try to grasp at the small potential for happiness that may still exist for them, their lives are tested to the limit by the devastation of a hurricane. The novel is based on real historical events.