Petra Woods is the director of the Sydney New Coastguard - a rescue service made possible by the financial support of her childhood friend and now boss of her family bank, Kirsten McKenzie. Both girls grew up on Sydney Harbour and the water and boats are in their blood. Kirsten has a yacht entered in the Sydney Hobart race - and she must win it to get a PR boost for a share issue as the bank she has inherited is in trouble. Everyone is convinced that Kirsten can win - she has the most renowned boat in the race, except for a young African boy. He's a soothsayer and he's predicting a storm and disaster.
So, to explain a bit, Moses is the young African boy, bought back to Australia when Petra and Kirsten travel to Africa and find him, seemingly rejected by his parents. Kirsten and Petra are childhood friends - Kirsten the daughter of a very wealthy family, has recently inherited control of the family bank which is teetering on financial trouble. She has sponsored the Sydney New Coastguard that Petra runs. Petra is the daughter of a poor but happy "old salt" - she grew up in a house perched on the fringe of the National Park and the Harbour - an idyllic childhood even after her mother was drowned in a Sydney Hobart. Petra has a boyfriend who she adores - he's a knockabout sort of a bloke, but in order to get a canyoning business off the ground he needs to get a real job - he goes to work for Kirsten in the bank, and Petra is uncomfortable that their relationship is getting too close. There's the TV Star who is attracted to Petra and intrigued by Moses. And the newspaper journalist ... ditto. Kirsten and Petra's lifelong friendship is threatened when Petra objects to Kirsten using Moses as a Publicity Stunt for the bank, and then when she "kidnaps" Moses and takes him on the yacht in the race despite the boy's prediction, Petra must save him. Oh and there's a sub-story about an election for Australia's First Citizen and, seemingly, the whole thing is set in a time period which is hard to pick, but I'd guess somewhere in the future.
Very slow to get started, the tension definitely does ramp up as the book progresses, and the scenes around the Sydney Hobart race itself really roar along. Despite some slight reader dread about the possibility of predictability, there are some nice twists and turns in some of the plot lines that worked pretty well. The plot does seem overly complicated and under served by the First Citizen thread - seems that there is an election for First Citizen, a ceremonial position (think current Governor General without the connection with the Crown for want of a better explanation), other than a pretty weak link to prove the veracity of predictions by Moses. Basically it didn't work and just cluttered up the rest of what was already a pretty cluttered landscape. This time, in a weird sort of a way, it was a relief that everybody was universally physically gorgeous - men, women, boys, boats and the Harbour. It was all laid on a bit thick but you definitely couldn't say it wasn't fairly laid on! In terms of who THE STORM PROPHET might appeal to - there are elements of a thriller that could appeal to readers looking for a light holiday read; there are aspects of romance that could appeal to fans of the happily ever after (sort of) reader.