Sunday, November 16, 2014

After the Rain by Renée Carlino: Review


From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a deeply emotional contemporary romance about the second chances waiting beyond the shattered dreams of youth.

Under the bright arena lights of a rodeo show, young Avelina Belo falls for a handsome cowboy with a larger-than-life personality. After a whirlwind courtship, she happily moves away from her family in northern California and settles into married life with her cowboy on a seven-thousand-acre cattle ranch in Montana. One freak accident later, Avelina’s hopes for the future come to an end.

Nate Myers graduated from UCLA medical school at the top of his class, ready to follow in the footsteps of his father, a superstar cardiothoracic surgeon. Six years later, Nate’s career is being ruined by a malpractice suit. Questioning himself for the first time, he retreats to a Montana cattle ranch to visit his uncle and gain perspective. There, he meets a beautiful young woman named Avelina who teaches him more than he ever knew about matters of the heart.

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About the Author:

Renee’s first friends were the imaginary kind and even though her characters haven’t gone away, thankfully the delusions have. She admits she’s a wildly hopeless romantic and she blames 80’s movies staring Molly Ringwald for that. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on the next book, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.

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Review by Michelle:

If there was ever any doubt as to whether Renee Carlino could write a heart shattering emotional story, After the Rain is proof positive that not only can she write it, she can make you feel every word of it.

After the Rain is about strength and courage and starting over after tragedy for not just one, but both main characters. Avelina (Ava) certainly has had a rough road. She really never had much of a break, she experienced one heartbreak after the next, and suffered from unnecessary guilt so fierce she was crippled by it. Nate seemingly had the perfect life until he was given one heck of a reality check and the opportunity to see that there really is more to life than what he was making of it. Nate and Ava find solace in one another, but by no means fall effortlessly into each other's open arms making for a turbulent romance that is built to stand the test of time.

The writing in this story was just as dazzling as Renee Carlino's previous books. She certainly has a way with words and can evoke tangible emotion with just a few words. I did find though that I was missing a bit of a connection with the two main characters. I was certainly invested and felt for each, I wanted them to overcome their problems, and was definitely rooting for them to get together and stay together, but the spark that I felt when I read about Ava and Jake's first meeting, the love and unmistakable bond that I felt between those two, didn't quite resonate when it came to Nate and Ava. Although I wanted nothing more than for Ava and Nate to each work out their issues and make a life together, when Ava would fall back into the feelings and memories of the life that she shared with Jake I didn't much blame her because I often caught myself doing the same.

I loved Ava's evolution throughout the story, but most especially within the last year. It was both moving and exciting the way that she took her health and healing into her own hands to become an independent and capable woman. I just really wish it hadn't, in a way, been at someone else's expense. Ava ended up putting Nate through the wringer in order to find this strength, confidence and clarity which I felt could have been done just as effectively in a more sensitive, empathetic way to him, his feelings, and his sacrifices.

Now the epilogue, I loved everything about that. I loved that it was from a completely unexpected point of view, that it was the perfect summation of Nate and Ava's unique romance, and I actually loved that it wasn't your typical five or ten years down the road look into the couple's happily ever after, yet it still leaves you perfectly content and allows you to create your own ever after for the two. It was sufficiently sappy, and I do mean that in the best way possible, it was sweet and touching and uplifting and everything you could want in a beautiful ending.

Such a unique and compelling story, After the Rain is heartbreaking, frustrating, touching, and entertaining all at once. A sweet and stirring love story.

Rating: 4 Stars

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