Thursday, October 8, 2015

"the sweetest rain" by myra johnson + giveaway

In The Sweetest Rain, Myra Johnson takes readers to Arkansas in the early days of the Great Depression.

As the drought of 1930 burns crops to a crisp, Bryony Linwood dreams of cooling winter snows and the life she would have had if daddy hadn’t been killed in the Great War and mama hadn’t moved Bryony and her sisters to their grandfather’s struggling tenant farm in tiny Eden, Arkansas. Now Mama’s gone, too, and as times grow tougher, Bryony will do whatever it takes to ensure her family’s survival. 

Michael Heath barely survived the war, and twelve years later all he wants to do is forget. A virtual recluse, his one passion is botanical illustration. Lost in the diversity of nature’s beauty, he finds escape from a troubled past and from his wealthy father’s continual pressure to take an interest in the family plantation. 

When Bryony accepts employment at the Heath mansion, it’s just a job at first, a means to ward off destitution until the drought ends and Grandpa’s farm is prosperous again. But Bryony’s forced optimism and dogged determination disguise a heart as dry and despairing as the scorched earth . . . until she discovers Michael Heath and his beautiful botanical illustrations. As their relationship deepens, friendship soon blossoms into healing for wounded souls and a love that can’t be denied. 

The Sweetest Rain is a beautiful novel about family. Yes, it's a romance, but to me, the importance of family is what stood out. Bryony comes from a very close-knit family—she lives with her two sisters and their grandfather, a tenant farmer, and with the drought, they're barely surviving. All they have is each other, and their devotion to one another is one of the hallmarks of this novel. Michael, by contrast, comes from a wealthy but incredibly fractured family. His father rules the family with a heavy hand, and he's often verbally abusive to Michael. Michael's mother is in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and his sister disappeared years ago after being disowned by their father. When Bryony begins working for Michael's family, the wheels are set in motion for the family's healing.

I absolutely loved The Sweetest Rain. It did take about 50 pages for me to fully engage with it, and at times the plot moved a little slowly for my taste, but as a whole, I loved it. The strength of the characters is responsible for that. Each character—from Bryony and Michael to their families to the servants—is fleshed out and engaging. Even though I loathed Michael's father, I could understand and even feel sympathy for him because of the way Johnson wrote him. I loved how the more unlikable characters (especially some of the servants) became likable once their motives were revealed.

The Sweetest Rain also contains a couple of great twists that I never saw coming, but when they happened, they made perfect sense. Sometimes authors too clearly telegraph their moves or they throw in twists that seem to come out of nowhere, but Johnson walked the "twist" line beautifully.

I highly recommend The Sweetest Rain to historical fiction lovers. And the good news is that this is just the first novel in a series—I know I'll be in line to get my hands on book two when it releases! 4-1/2 stars.

Franciscan Media has generously offered to give a copy of the book to one of my readers! Giveaway open in US only. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email before another winner is chosen. Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Follow the blog tour at these stops:

Buy the book.
Read my review of Johnson's When the Clouds Roll By (4 stars).

Note: The Sweetest Rain is published by Franciscan Media, a Catholic publisher. I tell you this simply because most of the books I review are from Protestant publishers. In the future, when I review novels published by Franciscan Media, I won't post this disclaimer unless the novel contains content that might be troubling to Protestants. (If you're wondering about The Sweetest Rain, the only indication that it is a Catholic novel is the use of "mass" instead of "church" and "priest" or "Father" instead of "pastor.") I always list the publisher in the blog labels, and I'll also include the Franciscan Media logo.

Myra Johnson’s roots go deep into Texas soil, but she now enjoys living amidst the scenic beauty of North Carolina. Myra’s debut novel, One Imperfect Christmas, was a September 2009 release from Abingdon Press. She has also written six novels for the Heartsong Presents line. Her 2009 release, Autumn Rains, won the 2005 RWA Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript, and she is a two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist. Most recently she has completed a three-book historical romance series, “Till We Meet Again,” for Abingdon Press. The first book in the series, When the Clouds Roll By, won the historical fiction category of the 2014 Christian Retailing’s Best Award. Book 2, Whisper Goodbye, and book 3, Every Tear a Memory, both received 4½-star reviews from Romantic Times. Myra and her husband, Jack, have two married daughters and seven grandchildren.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. Becky, thank you so much for this thoughtful review of my novel and for featuring it on your blog today! I'm honored and blessed!

    1. My pleasure, Myra. I really enjoyed the book! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Myra, with each blog post and author interview I've read over the last few days, I fall more in love with the story of Bryony & Michael! This is a time period I haven't read too much about in fiction so to learn a little more about the depression and things would be fascinating. I've enjoyed this review also on the book, thanks for sharing your thoughts, Becky! And for the chance to win a copy of "The Sweetest Rain"!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Trixi!

    2. Trixi, it's been fun "meeting" you during the blog tour! I'm so thankful for your interest in my book!

  3. Hmmm I've never heard of this author! Sounds very good. Going on my TBR list. My kind of book!
    Great review BTW.

    1. Oops LOL I hit enter before I finished my add.

    2. It is really good! I think you'll like it :-)

    3. Thank you! I do hope you'll enjoy my story! And I'm guessing you really do have wall-to-wall books at your house! So nice to meet another book lover!


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