After the Rain by Renee Carlino #Review

Posted June 12, 2015 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 19 Comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

After the Rain by Renee Carlino #Review
After the Rain

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Genres: New Adult Romance
Published by Atria Books
Released on November 11, 2014
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Get it at: add to goodreads

I grabbed this one after reading the blurb and seeing that it was a new to me author. I wasn’t sure what to expected, but oh the feels…

This one hit fast and hard when it came to both of these characters. Ava was a damaged soul who broke after the loss of her dad, her mom’s emotional withdrawal, and finally losing the love of her life in a tragic way and all that when she was just nineteen. Nate is in slightly better shape, but he too experienced pain when one of his patients died while he was doing surgery and it’s a wake-up call to realize that his life is his work and nothing else.

This story told alternating first person point of view is of two lost people who help each other find themselves again. Nate is a brilliant young heart surgeon from LA and Ava is a salt of the earth wrangler on a ranch. From outward appearances, they shouldn’t work, but love finds a way.

Nate’s dad sends him off to stay on the Montana ranch where his uncle and aunt live and he is soon caught up trying to figure out the enigma that is Ava. Everyone on the ranch has diverse opinions about Ava. She has been like a ghost for five years with some feeling for her and others having lost all patience. Nate’s arrival and his being an outsider who doesn’t have first person knowledge of the tragedy make him succeed with Ava where others have failed. But even for Nate, Ava is no easy matter. She is skittish, mercurial, and most of all wary. Her case of survivor’s guilt runs deep. He can’t quite give up on her even when she pushes him away and runs from him and in her own way, she teaches him to see beyond his work and learn to grasp for the good things in life.

Ava slowly starts to come alive after Nate arrives and challenges her to move forward. At first, she is bitter and angry with him for not understanding and guilty every time he coaxes a smile, a laugh or a good time out of her. She feels unworthy to have a second chance when Jake is gone and then when she does figure out that she can let go, she is lost as to who she is since she has defined herself as Jake’s wife for so long. If she can’t find herself and learn to love and live again, she might lose something really special with a man who truly sees her.

This was heartbreaking and poignant and a really well-done bit of character and romantic development. The first part of the story is told in a detached way that seems to be meant to get the reader up to speed and then it settles back into a gently paced story with the only blips being the emotional kind.

Speaking of these emotional blips, this one is a tough story when it comes to the characters. They are noth easy to engage with particularly Ava. Pity was easy to feel and a sense of wanting to cheer her on, but she plays the ‘broken doll’ role very well and its hard to have patience with her. Nate is very career-focused, but his time at the ranch showed that he was so much more. He made some mistakes, but for the most part, he was stable and oh so patient and loving toward a woman who most everyone else had written off and saw as unlovable.

The secondary characters serve an interesting role. Most of them are in the picture when Nate’s doing the narrating. He is the one who is connected to life and to other people. Ava’s narrations involve herself or Nate for the most part until later when she starts to leave her past behind.

They take itsy bitsy steps, but there is humor and heat laced through it to keep things interesting. I cracked up when they pulled a prank on a grouchy ranch hand and I loved the scene at the hot spring where they ran into the other couple.

My only real niggle was the end. It was really cool how the last scenes played out in an epistolary format with Nate’s letters, but it made me feel detached from the story. Interesting choice for epilogue which again was disappointing because I wanted more first hand contact with the characters after all they had been through.

In the end, I enjoyed this story though it wasn’t as light as I thought it would be. It’s a story of growth and healing in a steamy opposites attract romance. I think it falls into the New Adult category because of Ava, but Nate is a little older so I would recommend it to New Adult and Contemporary Romance lovers.

My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.


Romance Roundabout #200

Cliché Klatch #117 ‘Your barking up the wrong tree’

New to Me #100 author

Mt. TBR #91

Interracial #30

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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  • I don’t think I would have patience with Ava (and I feel like a total b*tch writing this because of what she’s been through), but it looks like a good book anyway and I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

    • Actually, that’s exactly how I felt while reading it. I should have felt compassion for her after the way her husband died, but she didn’t bring that out in me so much as- ‘its been years, you’re young, none of it was your fault, get passed it’. So yeah, I get it, Iza! 😉

  • Looks like another good one! I like the fact the hero wasn’t swayed from helping Ava and sticking it out like he did. It sounds like there was amazing relationship building with this one.

    • For sure! These two really had to work for it especially Nate b/c Ava’s so fragile.

  • Lindy Gomez

    I love Renee Carlino. Sophia, you need to read her Sweet Thing series!!! It’s one of my favorites! I agree that this was a heartbreaking and poignant story. I loved Nate too!!! Great Review!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    • I will definitely pick up more of her writing, Lindy. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll have to check it out especially if its a favorite to you.

  • I”m loving that cover!!!

    • Agreed, Angela! Country lovin’ going on there.

  • I already feel sorry for Ava, sounds like she goes through a lot of hard things, losing almost everyone close to her in some way. It must be amazing to see her come alive and develop feelings for Nate though. Nate sounds really patient with her, which is something I like in a character, bt their patience has to pay off eventually. I don’t think I ever have seen an epilogue in letter format and I think I would much rather prefer to read an epilogue written normally as that feels closer. Great review!

    • Yes, Ava went through several losses and ended up losing herself for a while. Nate really was a rock for her.

      Yeah, the letters were an interesting way to end things and having a neighbor who is nearly a stranger share observations. Different and definitely distancing to me.

  • That is a different ending. Usually I grow closer to the characters as they experience growth but it kind of sounds like the ending cheated you of that connection.

    • It did feel like that. There were several letters over a year’s time span all on his side with no contact on hers and then a brief two page epilogue told from a relative stranger’s perspective. After first person with the heroine and hero through the whole story, that just felt odd.

  • oh wow…the ending sounds different. On Occasion I have read some books where the epilogue is a letter or a journal entry, mostly found in historical romances (this happens a bit more, its rare in Contemporary), and even though I would much prefer more character interaction sometimes its refreshing to have something different, its just how the author handles it. But I really love the sounds of this story, and both characters sound like they are stimulating.

    • I think if it hadn’t been so intimate with the first person perspective all the way through then I might have been fine with a little drawing back, but it was like being in their heads then suddenly watching from a distance. I felt off-balance and left out. That being said, I still enjoyed the story.

  • Oh that sounds like a great find, Sophia! Odd choice for the ending though. I do like it when authors try something different but a shame it didn’t give quite the ending it could have been.

    • Yeah, it was a strong feelsie story. I think that’s why the end didn’t work so well for me because I didn’t like losing my closeness with the characters especially at the end.

  • Sounds like it was a good read and lots of emotions. The bad stuff happens when she is 19 and it is 5 years later-so she is 24? Hope I got that right. Glad it was a good read for you 😉