A Gentle Rain
A Gentle Rain is a pleasing blend of contemporary romance and women’s fiction and is a delightfully heartwarming story of a woman’s struggle to find herself after her world is turned upside down and finding love along the way. Plus, it’s set in the south and I’m always a little partial to a southern setting in contemporary romance.
Kara Whittenbrook is quite the heiress – the niece of a senator, descendant of former U.S. presidents, and the daughter of Nobel Prize-winning environmentalist parents. While sorting through her parents’ possessions after their untimely deaths, she finds documents that reveal she’s adopted, shocking information on the heels of her loss. The adoption, kept secret from family as well, becomes even more astounding when Kara learns from her parents’ trusted friend and adviser that her birth parents are also mentally disabled.
Dropping the trappings of wealth and assuming an alias, Kara becomes Karen and heads to the Thocco Ranch in North Florida where her biological parents live and work in order to discover the truth about her birth. A bit of trouble puts her in the path of ranch owner, Ben Thocco, and her birth father, Mac (who is one of Ben’s ranch hands), both of whom come to her rescue. Because of the trouble, Ben offers to let her stay on at the ranch and work until she saves enough money to get back on her feet. She can’t ask for a better way to get to know her birth parents, Mac and Lilly, the sweet, special people who practically make Kara their own, not knowing the secret she carries.
Ben Thocco was orphaned at the age of 16 along with his little brother who has Down’s Syndrome. Ben has committed his life to his brother, who has a severe heart condition and is not expected to live much longer. Ben is devastated, but keeps the news a secret in order to make his last months ones of happiness. With a large, environmentally friendly cattle ranch in operation and staffed by employees with special needs, Ben has his hands full with financial troubles and little time for himself. When Karen steps into his world brandishing a knife against horse thieves, he knows he could fall in love. Her presence at the ranch and the changes (or maybe a better word would be challenges) that she brings are welcomed and they slowly fall in love.
However, both are hiding secrets from each other that they feel can destroy the fragile relationship growing between them. Kara knows that Ben needs someone he feels is an equal and has too much pride to accept help from her that she could easily give. Ben has secrets that he finds humiliating and has to learn to open himself to trust.
While the plot was a bit unlikely, the villains somewhat stereotypical, and hardships fell one on top of the other, I easily suspended improbability and enjoyed the struggles and triumphs of all the characters. While the heroine held on to her secrets a bit too long, it never got to the point of frustrating me. However, pride is a good thing, but when it’s too important, noses can be cut off in spite of faces – this is how I felt about Ben at times.
There were many things about this book that I enjoyed. While I used to shy away from all books in the first person, I’ve really enjoyed the last few that I’ve read, this one included. The narration switched between Kara and Ben, both of which gave their view of events and each point of view change was obvious. Both hero and heroine were strong characters, with flaws, that I found touching and the secondary characters, though again slightly stereotypical, were those you want to root for.
A Gentle Rain is a truly touching read that I continued to think about after I finished reading – which to me is always a sign of a good book and one worth recommending.