Title: After the Rain by Renee Carlino
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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?
After the Rain by Renee Carlino is an emotional and sometimes heartbreaking romance between two people deeply affected by very different life-altering events. For Avelina “Ava” McCrea, the devastating loss of her husband in a tragic turn of events leaves her paralyzed with grief. For Nathanial “Nate” Meyers, a medical error leads to a horrific loss that shakes the rising star’s confidence and leads to a re-evualation of his life. A surprising connection to a Montana ranch brings these two unlikely people together, but will the tragedies of their pasts keep them apart?
After the Rain is written in first person and alternates back and forth from Ava and Nate’s points of view. The story beings in 2003 from Ava’s perspective, and provides background information about her family’s history and details her first meeting with her soon to husband Jake McCrea. The novel then jumps forward to 2005 where it switches to Nate’s perspective and his graduation from medical school. Staying in 2005, the story shifts back to Ava where it follows her marriage from the idyllic happy times through the devastating loss of her husband. The story then fast forwards five years where Ava and Nate’s stories intertwine in the aftermath of Nate’s medical misdiagnosis.
The son of a highly successful cardiac surgeon, Nate has always known his path in life. From his early graduation to earning a coveted residency at a prestigious hospital, Nate has single-mindedly devoted himself to pursuing his career. When he is forced to take time off, Nate returns to the ranch where he spent many happy vacations with his aunt and uncle where he begins re-evaluate his life. Pursuing a relationship with Ava is just the first step in achieving a more balanced lifestyle but it is his sudden decision to make a drastic move that provides him the opportunity to make permanent changes to his life.
Ava has been mired in anger, grief and guilt since her husband’s death and although she has people who care about her, they have been unable to help her move past her loss. She is floundering in the wake of Jake’s death and she has turned to alcohol to help cope with her memories. After meeting Nate, she begins to fully engage with the people around her, but this change is tenuous and it does not take much to make her retreat. Given the tragedies she has endured, it is sometimes easy to forget that Ava is in her early twenties and her reactions often reflect this lack of maturity. As much as she would like to fully commit to a relationship with Nate, Ava needs to recapture the person she used to be before she entered into her all consuming marriage and gave up her hopes and dreams in exchange for Jake’s.
The relationship between Nate and Ava is on again/off again with Ava directing the course of their romance. Ava is sometimes frustrating as she clings tightly to her grief and self-loathing instead of accepting the opportunities to move forward. Just as they begin to make progress, Ava pulls away and Nate renews his pursuit. This is a vicious cycle that culminates in a unilateral decision by Ava that Nate has no choice but to accept. Their future together continues to hang in the balance and leads to a very dramatic and poignant outpouring of emotion that is quite touching.
After the Rain is a very compelling novel of self-forgiveness and healing that is fast paced with engaging protagonists. All of the characters are fully developed and three-dimensional with flaws and imperfections that are easy to relate to. The storyline is well-written and unique with real life issues that take time to overcome. Renee Carlino brings the novel to an outstanding conclusion that is guaranteed to melt the reader’s heart. All in all, a lovely romance that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend.