When the Sutherland family reunion descends on Malvern Gardens Inn, it catches eighteen-year-old Jennalee Preece in rebellion. Daughter of the inn’s owners, Jennalee hasn’t forgiven her father for uprooting the family from a comfortable life in San Francisco and dropping them in the middle of California’s gold country, far from anything hip, or fun, or exciting.
Acting out with local boys and refusing to play the piano she loves, Jennalee finds the Sutherland hordes a welcome diversion. Amid the countless well-off families come the Laidlaws -- on motorcycles. This black sheep branch of the family seems as rebellious as Jennalee does, and she’s drawn to their punk violinist son, Harley.
Over the four-day Fourth of July weekend, the Sutherlands drink, party, squabble, and even manage to burn down part of the inn. Can Harley pull Jennalee from her rebellion and help her find emotional stability with the music they share?
Back in the lobby Jennalee found clusters of Sutherlands hugging and squealing. She tried to sidestep them, planning to get her sunglasses from her room and hike up to the bluff, but her father spied her. "Jennalee, good. Show Mr. and Mrs. Sutherland to sixteen."
"I have to get my sunglasses."
"That can wait." He handed her the key card.
She forced a long sigh. "The sun is blinding!" she wailed as she spun and walked away, key card in hand. Everett and Aldora Sutherland hurried to catch up. Across the compound she waited for them at the unlocked door. "Here you go," she said, pushing the key into the elderly gentlemen's hand.
"Thank you, young lady," he said and she caught a wave of aged breath.
"No problem." She squinted as she walked away. She was devising a plan to get her sunglasses without being seen when she heard the distinctive roar of motorcycles and ran toward the courtyard, hoping some biker gang was crashing this potentially mind-numbing weekend.
She didn't remain in shadow now, but leaned against a supporting column on the wide porch. It was shady here, almost cool, and she forgot the heat as she heard the bikes closing, two at least, maybe three or four. "Dad is going to shit," she said aloud as they came into view.
Harleys, she noted, full dresser in the lead pulling a small trailer, Sportster half a length behind, sleek and black, but still big and powerful. Then something else, she couldn't make out what kind, with two riders, one in leather, one decidedly not, everyone helmeted in accordance with California law.
Sutherlands were drifting out the door, but most hurried back inside when they saw the small procession. Only a few children remained, plus the squishy guy, now minus his wife. He stepped forward and began to laugh. "Earl!" he called, shaking the Harley rider's hand before the man got his helmet off. "How the hell are you?"
The rider, dressed in a battered Levi jacket and black jeans, remained concealed behind his black Darth Vader-like full-face helmet. He shut off his engine, rested the motorcycle on a side stand, and only then unstrapped the cover to reveal himself middle-aged and weathered, dark hair, dark mustache. Sinister, Jennalee thought, the gang leader. She moved on to the Sportster, as did the squishy guy, who lit up at sight of a woman emerging from the helmet, oval-faced with a mass of dark curls that spilled around her jacket collar. "Aunt Liz!" he gushed and Jennalee smiled. They're part of it. Dad is going to major shit.
The woman, taller than her husband by a good two inches, also wore black jeans, but she topped them with a worn leather jacket split at the left shoulder. Behind her the other two riders had emerged, one in Levis and leather, the other in shiny blue slacks-they reminded Jennalee of Grandpa Preece's gabardine -- and a pinstriped black on white vest unbuttoned over an outlandish orange print shirt. They appeared in their early twenties, Levis and leather strikingly handsome in an Elvis way, the garish clown with him an obvious punk devotee. While the first one wore his hair slick and sideburned in a retro-fifties style, the second subscribed to the chaos Jennalee knew from school -- Lowell, not Malvern -- gelled high and wild on top, nearly shaved on the sides. The stubble that remained ran down onto his face and across his chin. He completed the look with an earring in his left ear.