A Gentle Rain by Deborah Smith
Deborah Smith has quickly become one of my favorite romance, Southern, women writers this year, and I think this was absolutely my favorite Deborah Smith book so far.
Kara Whittenbrook finds out after the death of her beloved parents that she was adopted at birth. Leaving her Whittenbrook family and tremendous fortune, she heads into deep Florida following information about her mentally-disabled birth parents. She finds her parents and Ben Thocco, a Cracker ranch owner with a disabled brother, who shares her desire to care for the environment and for people and things that are "different." As Kara struggles to keep her identity hidden while helping Ben save the ranch and learning more about her birth parents, she falls in love the people, the ranch, and the dashing cowboy.
This book, as many of Smith's books have been, was deep in history of the South and in relationships- relationships between parents and children, between family members, and between men and women. There is so much good meaty stuff here, I'm not even sure where to begin. The realizations that Kara makes as she comes to terms with the fact that her parents are mentally disabled, the search that she is on for her own identity, her realization that family sticks together- even when they don't always agree, her discovery of what is truly important in the power world of money. And that is only Kara's point of view. The book, like many of Smith's, goes back and forth between Ben and Kara's viewpoint.
Smith refers to the writings of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings to learn more about the deep Florida, Cracker peoples. I am definitely going to look them up- more classics I have missed reading. Smith's worldview is decidedly not the same as mine, but there are times I find myself agreeing with a revelation that a character has or a way that one of her characters responds. I can definitely relate to her very well-developed and likable characters!
I will also say that this is one of the more "tame" of Smith's novels in the romance department. Intimate scenes are much less descriptive, and the language is toned down quite a bit in this one, making it easier to read if you are bothered by those elements.
This was a favorite and will definitely lead to PABD. I'm already not sure what to pick up from my stack next, but I think I need a little genre change to help me over the hump.