The Sweetest Rain

The Sweetest RainThe Sweetest Rain by Myra Johnson
Series: Flowers of Eden #1
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Franciscan Media on August 13, 2015
Pages: 307

 

Bryony Linwood’s family is in trouble. For years now, it has just been the four of them – Bryony, her grandfather, and her two sisters Larkspur and Rose. Tenant farming proves difficult enough for an old man and 3 young women when the weather cooperates but now… The Arkansas drought has dried up their hopes of breaking even on their farm, and Bryony knows their landlord’s patience is about to dry up too. Hoping to convince Mr. Heath to extend them just a little more time, she ends up striking a deal with him instead. In exchange for working for the Heaths as a housemaid, Bryony can pay off her grandfather’s back rent. However, as she begins her new job, she quickly learns that for all the Heath’s wealth they are actually a poor family where it matters most.

Michael Heath struggles to overcome the internal scars left behind from fighting in the Great War. Most content when he is drawing nature with his sketchpad and pencils, he increasingly finds himself at odds with his business-minded father.  Under pressure to learn the ins and outs of the plantation, Michael also worries about his mother’s growing confusion and the wellbeing of his estranged sister.  When Bryony breezes into his life, her presence feels like sweet rain to his dry heart.  Despite the mounting differences between their worlds, can these two wounded souls find a way clear to love each other?

Myra Johnson manages to infuse the tone of the book with hope; while the story deals with one discouraging topic after another, it never feels heavy or depressing.

This book is such a splendid beginning to what promises to be a fantastic new series! Rich with emotion, The Sweetest Rain sketches a compelling portrait of the heartbreaking realities associated with World War 1, the Depression, and even Alzheimer’s. The author also delves into the harshness of life experienced in Arkansas around the 1930s – the Thanksgiving Day tornado outbreak of 1926, the floods of 1927, the stock market crash in 1929 (which drastically dropped agriculture and farming prices), the England food riot of 1931, and the division felt between classes and races.  Yet somehow, Myra Johnson manages to infuse the tone of the book with hope; while the story deals with one discouraging topic after another, it never feels heavy or depressing.

How is this possible?

Well, I think it has a lot to do with something Myra says in her author’s note at the back of the book.

“At its core, The Sweetest Rain is a story about families – what holds them together, what drives them apart.”

“The Sweetest Rain” sings with characters who became my friends and family as I read, their personalities almost tangible.

See, the characters give this book its hope, its light, its joy.  Bryony, who digs in and loves fiercely and refuses to let her loved ones lose their purpose. Michael, who struggles to stand up for himself but somehow begins to find the strength to quietly stand up for everyone else. Grandpa, who watches nature take everything (and leave nothing) and still carries himself with a hard-fought dignity and grit.  And let’s not forget Larkspur and Rose and Miranda and Jeremiah and Callie and Mrs. Heath and Dancy… yes, even Odette, Alice, and Esther.

The Sweetest Rain sings with characters who became my friends and family as I read, their personalities almost tangible.  I am happy to note that this is the first in a series because I am nowhere close to being done with the Linwoods or the Heaths!  Hints of future story lines wafted through particular scenes with Bryony’s sisters, but even just these small morsels have me anxious for more.

The romance captured my heart, and the setting created the perfect storm for Bryony and Michael.

Myra Johnson writes so engagingly that I was caught up in the setting and the time period without ever feeling that I was reading a history lesson.  Actual events from the era, along with insight into what soldiers faced returning home from The Great War, were woven seamlessly into the story.  Fiction that entertains and makes you smarter is always a good thing!

The Sweetest Rain is a refreshing tale of hope, family, determination, and love. The romance captured my heart, and the setting created the perfect storm for Bryony and Michael. I am looking forward to the rest of this series with much anticipation, and I highly recommend it for any historical fiction fan.

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