”Love is everything it’s cracked up to be…It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.” – Erica Jong
Author: Susan Mac Nicol
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 280 Pages
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Blurb: The village of Stamford, the quintessential chocolate box English scene, seemed an impossible dream for foster kid Toby Prentiss.
Now he’s found a home among the haystacks and village fairs as the general manager for the Duck and Drake Hotel. With the fears and demons from his youth hidden away in this bucolic oasis, he’s very protective of who he lets in. Until he stumbles across shirtless carpenter Rain Engel building the hotel’s new custom-designed bar.
Working in the countryside, Rain prepared to face his biggest fear: sheep. He didn’t expect to deal with his second biggest fear: commitment. Toby’s controlled tough guy façade coupled with his “find happiness where you can” optimism calls to Rain like nothing before. While Rain may be an exhibitionist, his romantic history forces him to hold his emotions close. As their relationship develops, secrets from their pasts drive a wedge between them: the ex-boyfriend who tore apart Rain’s trust and Toby’s history with the law. But can the secrets hiding among the quirky villagers bring them together? With missing sheep, pole dancing at the winter festival, and a crippling drought, everyone is waiting for Rain.
Review: I have a confession to make. Blurbs are my nemesis. I actually find that most of them give way too much information about a book and leave any recap or synopsis on the reviewer’s part superfluous. In other words, I feel as though without giving away far too much, there is sometimes very little for me to add to the blurb that will help you make sense of the story. So, suffice it to say that the blurb above gives you more than enough of the novel’s trajectory for us to discuss how this novel by Susan Mac Nicol did and, unfortunately, did not work for me.
The author begins a sweet story of healing and love with her novel Waiting For Rain. She writes gently flawed characters and slowly unfolds their story, piece by piece, never rushing, which lends an air of reality to her writing. Both Rain and Toby were so very likeable. From the very start, I was engaged in their story, captured by their instant lust and attraction for each other and intrigued with the glimpses I was given of their pasts. While there were not any new elements added to the “scorned lover meets street wise bad boy” trope, I felt the way in which the author handled unfolding this particular plot line was both interesting and fun. She managed to add dashes of humor to her novel that steered it away form being too heavy and intense.
Unfortunately, however, a great beginning does not always mean a five star novel. Several things began to fall apart in this story for me. The first, I must admit, was the sheer volume of sex. I understood that the author was attempting to show us how strong the connection was between her two men and why they were able to begin considering the “love” question very early on. However, after a very short time, I began to feel that the story existed just to link together the hot bedroom scenes. On top of that, I realized that both characters were using sex to wash away the latest worry or problem of the day. While I understand that idea, I felt it was unrealistic that meeting in the tool shed on the hotel property was the best way to fix much of anything other than a nagging hard on. Forgive me if that seems crude, but I feel the sheer volume of encounters between Toby and Rain eventually made the story lose some of its believability.
The second major concern was the editing. I felt as though this novel dragged on in places. Because the plot was sparse and the problems inherent in it were typically quickly and easily solved, it was, in my opinion, vital that this story have some real moments. I wanted a problem that was not going to be solved instantly. I wanted to see how these two men could work through major roadblocks, struggle with perhaps having to accept a less than perfect love life, sacrifice for each other in the end. Instead, each time they were confronted with major decisions or huge roadblocks, things magically resolved themselves. I was so frustrated by this. You see, this story had begun so well. I felt there was gong to be a truly realistic relationship unfolded for these two characters and, instead, I was given a fairytale of sorts, complete with a small town buying into a gay man pole dancing in a neighbor’s barn. I have to tell you that plot element alone made me scratch my head.
This writer has some very real talent. Susan Mac Nicol has a wonderful ability to create real men who capture both your heart and imagination. Now I feel as though if she could begin to edit the story she wraps around them, rely less on sex scenes to hold her plot points together and allow her men to stumble and make more mistakes with each other, she could have a brilliant story as a result. Waiting For Rain was a good idea that simply lost something in the execution. However, I want to read more by this author, for I truly feel she has remarkable talent that is just waiting to produce a more cohesive story.