A Gentle Rain by Deborah Smith
published by Belle Books in November 2007
Kara Whittenbrook is an unlikely heiress. Down-to-earth and lovably quirky, she's never fit in with the stodgy Whittenbrook clan of Connecticut. Growing up at her parents' rainforest preserve in Brazil, she has a quaintly off-beat view of life. Now her beloved parents have died in a plane crash, and Kara's learned a stunning truth.
She was adopted. Her birth parents are Mac and Lily Tolbert, and they're mentally handicapped. They live and work on a backwater cattle ranch in northern Florida. The ranch owner is a handsome, part-Seminole cowboy named Ben Thocco. He's running out of time and money to save the ranch and care for the likable bunch of handicapped ranch hands he employs, including his own baby brother, Joey.
Kara, using a fake identity on the advice of her lawyer, gets a job at Ben's ranch in Fountain Springs, Florida, where her adventures include entering an unpredictable mare in a local horse show.
Genre: contemporary fiction (romance)
The Story: There’s a lot that happened in the book and I found it hard to write a better synopsis than what was written on the back of the book, so I won’t attempt it. Basically, Kara wants to meet her birth parents and know why they didn’t want her. She finds her parents working at Ben Thocco’s ranch. Ben is an intriguing man. He is totally devoted to his little brother Joey who suffers from heart conditions and Down Syndrome; his ranch hands are mostly people with mental problems… and to top it all, Ben has a past in Mexico that he doesn’t want to talk about.
My Opinion: I love Ms Deborah Smith’s books. They’re all so emotional. However, I wish she wouldn’t have switched to first person narration in addition of alternating between the hero and heroine pov. I’m not sure if first person narration makes the book more emotional, but I preferred it when she had third person narration.
Anyway, onto A Gentle Rain. When I first read the synopsis and an excerpt, I thought the idea was very good and that Ms Smith would surely pull it off. It took me a while to get my hand on the book because I could only order it by amazon… but once I got it, I devoured it. Although the book was good, it didn’t meet my expectations and I was a bit disappointed.
Character-wise, Ms Smith did a very good job. Kara is a nice heroine to read about. She’s always felt like she didn’t fit the prestigious Whittenbrook clan with her unruly hair, her stutter and lack of achievement. So it’s only normal she wants to learn about her roots, see if she belongs somewhere, when she learns that she was adopted. Ben is also a good hero… very devoted to Joey, protective of his employees, soft-hearted with an iron will. He can deal with whatever people throws at him, but I think it made him tired… older before his age. So he’s the kind of hero you admire without wanting him for yourself because he has too much baggage. There were many secondary characters and all were very interesting and entertaining. However, I liked Kara’s parents the most – Mac is simple-minded because his mother drank too much alcohol during the pregnancy and Lily, because she was shaken by her mother’s boyfriend when she was a baby… and despite their simple nature, you can see how they love each other, how much they are devoted to each other and that was very sweet.
Plot-wise, it could have been better. I thought that it dragged on a little and instead of focusing on Kara, Ben, their relationship, Kara and her parents’ relationship… the book contained many elements that I thought unnecessary – like the horse and the barrel race – and it took away from the story. One thing that I disliked was that Kara was an heiress and she had sooo much money. I think the money smoothed out way to many obstacles. I mean, why put obstacles if Kara can just take her money and solve them? I know the money is part of Kara, but I thought that with an idea like this one: young woman discovering that she was adopted and that her parents here mentally handicapped, the book could have been much more. I was expecting a lot more of emotional baggage and obstacles and there weren’t many.
My Grade: B.