Publisher: BelleBooks (November 15, 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, arrives in Fountain Springs, Florida, and meets Ben and her birth parents under some very unusual circumstances.
My praise for A Gentle Rain goes beyond words as it left me with a rainbow of emotions when I closed this book.
When Kara stumbles upon secrets of her past it is up to her if she wants to find out more. And Kara does find more….when she arrives at a ranch in Florida owned by Ben Thocco she gets acquainted with its colorful people. In a matter of days Kara is a part of this new world, with a new job and new people to get to know. And a mare that has taken a liking to her and proves to the rest of the world what Ben Thocco, his brother Joey and Ben’s crew: Mac, Lily, Miriam, Bigfoot, Roy, Dale, Cheech and Possum all along knew. Still choices need to be made to uncover the secrets of the past or to let it remain in the past as love and family are found in an unexpected place…
I’m still pondering on words as this emotionally gripping story leaves me with blurry eyes, a warm heart and a grin on my face all at once. I believe this to be the strength of Deborah Smith’s writing, she’s able to tell a story of the heart, of people that I can meet just by stepping out into the world. The romance soars high in A Gentle Rain but it is the characters that Deborah Smith portraits that drew me into their lives and emotions. Ben had me from the moment he appears in the story! It’s just his down-to-earth behavior with a sense of humor that is purely his own and his loyalty to those he cares for that just had me at his hello. His past reveals itself in layers throughout the story and gives a reaction with Kara that just keeps me on the edge of my seat wondering when it all will be in the open, how will they react and above all, will love prevail!
This book is told from two perspectives, from Ben’s side and Kara’s and it took me a moment to feel the rhythm of it, but then it adds a dimension, a depth to it that I highly appreciated. I do feel that Kara was the center of this story and her growth as a person was one I enjoyed from start to finish. I could relate to Kara so easily and there for felt her journey as she felt it, with all the high and low points and many endearing moments. Those moments were often related to the crew on Ben’s ranch. Mac and Lily paint a beautiful picture of two people who simply love one another and that love has nothing to do with how smart you are but is just plainly something you feel in the heart. Joey, in all the trials of life he gives the lesson that all things should be savored in life, even the smallest pleasures can reward you with the brightest of smiles. Each character there on the ranch has such an outspoken personality that they, in their own way, make a lasting impression. From shy and quiet to brash and bold they possess a zest for life that teaches Kara to embrace life in all its possibilities.
What I truly was in awe of was how Deborah Smith gave voice to challenged characters who want to live life on their own terms making me fall for each of them. A Gentle Rain is told with a love for the contemporary romance genre and that though it holds moments of true pleasure, humor and love, it also is a story with moments that are painfully real which gave some blurry eyed moments. This gave a true feel to this tale and a human face to the emotions of the characters but also swept me away in all their thoughts and feelings that particularly reverberate with me. The love between Ben and Kara is simmering, carefully testing the strength of it and shines when they each come to know one another making me curl up on the couch with another cup of tea, knowing I will not close this book until I read the very last page.
With A Gentle Rain Deborah Smith gives us a novel where the background of Florida is a canvas for a breathtaking romance story between a man and a woman. Each has a past that entwines them in the present and gives them and their family a chance for a love filled future.