Friday, December 4, 2020

Lisa Gregory - The Rainbow Promise

Beautiful Julia Dobson knew love years ago. And it had broken her heart. Now she is back in the little frontier town of her childhood, living in her brother Luke Turner's house, a stranger to the happiness he has with his wife, Sarah. For while Sarah's love redeemed Luke from a wild, lawless past, Julia still burns with shame at being born a Turner, a pretty rag doll of a girl from a tarpaper shack ... a girl not good enough for James Banks, the handsome son of the town doctor.
Yet in this tiny Texas town Julia cannot avoid James for long. When their eyes met, desire washed over her just as it had before. She knows some things never change, but she cannot forget her dream of a love that comes once in a lifetime ... or her secret promise that this time she won’t let him go.

Comment: I had read a book by this author last year and it was good enough to be read and to entertain but looking at what I wrote, it wasn't very impressive. Since I also had the second installment (published ten years later in relation to the first one), I've decided to have closure on this author and read this story too, so that it won't be hanging over my head as "unfinished business".

In this follow up to the other book, we meet again the loving couple Luke and Sarah in their idyllic existence and also Luke's sister Julia, whose husband dies and leaves her in a very complicated situation. Julia then decides to return to her old town and ask Luke's help, although they hadn't seen each other in years. Julia now has two children, and the house they lived in wasn't really theirs, so they are asked to leave. Once back into town and her brother's house, Julia is surprised to be welcomed so well by Luke and Sarah and she feels she might be able to raise her children in a good atmosphere. She also meets dr Banks again, the man she loved all those years ago and the reason why she decided to marry someone else, after all how could she be accepted by his family when hers was so disliked by everyone? Now they are both older, more mature, will they be able to reconnect and find what united them so much before?

I'd say this book would be easily categorized as "old skool", a book where the writing style, the characters' development went a certain way which might not be so appreciated now. Nevertheless, thinking about the development of the story, I think this wasn't too bad and it has aged a little better than most. I was well entertained for certain, and although some plot choices still made me wrinkle my nose, the majority of the story was appealing enough for me to have enjoyed reading it.

One critique I've seen repeated by several other readers is how much plot time is dedicated to Luke and Sarah (protagonists of book #1) instead of focusing even more on the supposedly main couple of this book, Julia and dr James Banks. I should add there's a third romance so the reader's attention is even more divided. I don't mind multi-POV stories and although this seems unfair, a good part of the plot does center on all the characters' lives. Until a certain point Julia and her children live with Luke and Sarah so it's not odd they should have air time. Perhaps yes, there's a little too much focus on them - especially because the focus is on a conflict they go through - but I don't think that element was such a big change from the author's usual style...

There are also surprises coming up regarding Luke's past. This occupies quite a significant part of the story and, despite its content not being that weird, considering the other book, it distracts readers from Julia and James' romance. Was it really necessary? I do think the author wanted to add as much potential for drama as she could and although things never go into silly territory, they didn't have to be addressed at all, but oh well...

Julia and James have a predictable love story. They fell in love young, she got pregnant and didn't tell him, she lives in self condemnation because she didn't love the man she married but she thought she wouldn't be accepted by James' family because of her own family's reputation. I can certainly expect this to be true to her time and to the personality of someone who has lived thinking less of herself. I can also accept James feeling betrayed since he didn't know she got pregnant but to see them so easily discuss these thing several (lost) years later wasn't such a surprise. After all, they were still a little bit in love and being older they were both more mature to deal with those decisions. Still, it did seem as if some drama could have been avoided but there you, it's always easy to say so after things happen and are solved.

I think there could have been more about this couple, though. We have glimpses of them here and there but it could have been as interesting, or even more so, if the development of the book were more on them, on how they reconnect, how they interacted for a while before starting to give in to their emotions...I believe their story could have been even more emotional and romantic.

All things considered, this wasn't too bad to read and despite the unfairness, it was nice to see Luke and Sarah again and to see some other characters too. Since the focus was all weird, the end felt a bit rushed, after so long spent on different issues concerning different characters, it sure could have been possible to develop things better at the end... still, an entertaining read.

Grade: 6/10

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