After the Rain by Renee Carlino
Publication Date: November 11th 2014
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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.
When eighteen-year-old Avelina Belo meets a charismatic cowboy the summer before her senior year of high school, she doesn’t know that accepting his invitation to dinner will lead to a whirlwind marriage three months later and an exciting new life on a Montana ranch. She also doesn’t know that, in a few short years, fate will send everything crashing down around her.
A thousand miles away and fresh out of medical school, Nate Meyers is poised to become UCLA’s next superstar heart surgeon. His laser focus is the key to his success, but it’s also his greatest liability. When a routine surgery ends in disaster, derailing his career, he’s confronted with the hard truth: there’s no one waiting for him at home, no one to help him pick up the pieces.
Regrouping on his uncle’s Montana ranch, Nate meets Avelina, a beautiful but mysterious young woman who keeps to herself and barely speaks a word. As he discovers the details of her devastating past, Avelina teaches him more about matters of the heart than he ever knew before. But can they trust each other enough to put everything on the line?
I was in the mood for something a little more dark and filled with angst, so I picked up After the Rain. I knew from previous experience Carlino’s books are full of depth and emotion. I wasn’t disappointed.
Both protagonists have suffered grave losses, though the heroine’s were arguably the worst of the two. After her father passed away, Avelina dropped out of high school and married Jake, a cowboy she met at a rodeo. Together they moved to Montana to work on a ranch as wranglers. They had a little less than two years of wedded bliss before Jake was injured in a riding accident and fell into a state of deep depression. When he dies, she’s filled with guilt and anger, and withdraws from everyone.
Five years later she’s startled out of her dark well of grief by Nate. He’s a heart surgeon from L.A., who needed to get away after losing his first patient. He’s intrigued by Ava and the way she’s treated by the others on the ranch. The more she opens up to him, the more he wants to know. But he’s dealing with his own emotional crisis, and he isn’t the best at opening himself to others at the best of times.
Ava is deeply damaged. Nate remarks several times that she needs to see someone professionally to help her deal with her anger and grief, and I agree with him. What she suffered – and the age she suffered it – wasn’t something she could easily move past on her own. Especially after five years of bottling her feelings. It was good to see her open herself up to life again, but I had doubts about how healed she really was.
Nate, too, had some growing to do. He was often selfish in his thoughts and actions, especially as it pertained to his career. He seemed to use his status as a surgeon as a shield to keep people at bay. Essentially,”This is important work, I must focus on it and can’t give of myself to you.”. His father was also a world-renowned heart surgeon, but he managed to balance work and his personal life in a way Nate never learned.
It was good that both Nate and Ava had lessons to learn and grief to deal with, but I have to admit both read as very young characters to me. Ava’s emotional growth was stunted at twenty when her husband died, so I understood her lack of maturity better than I did Nate’s. He was focused solely on first his studies then his career, which precluded him from exploring a romantic relationship. I get that. I even understood his lack of real friendships. I did not understand how a heart surgeon of thirty could act so immature. The time he spent at the ranch with Ava showed him acting more like a teenager or newly begun college student than a man of thirty.
I probably wouldn’t have been able to overlook the flaws in her characters if she hadn’t worked to correct the problem at the end. The resolution was very satisfying, however.
The beauty of Carlino’s writing and the emotional depth of the story really drew me in. She has a real talent for tugging at my heartstrings.
3.75 out of 5