Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas, narrated by Tanya Eby

Note:  Review originally written for Speakingof Audiobooks .  Permission has been granted to publish review in its entirety here.

Why I read it:  I was so looking forward to listening to this book.  I adored Blue Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger and I love Tanya Eby’s narration.  The combination of this author and this narrator felt like an automatic win for me.  And I did enjoy it, but...  well,  let’s get to what the story is about first.

What it's about:  Sam Nolan is the owner of the old Victorian House and proprietor of the vineyard at the end of Rainshadow Road on San Juan Island, Washington.  We met him in Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor which featured his brother Mark and his, now, wife-to-be, Maggie.   Sam’s gorgeous and talented and friendly and sexy but he doesn’t do commitment.  Ever.  He’s always honest about it.  He’s not a cheater or a deceiver but his experience with his alcoholic parents and their toxic marriage has scarred him for life.  

Lucy Marinn is a glass artist, working mainly on stained glass windows.  We first meet Lucy when her boyfriend of 3 years, Kevin, dumps her for her younger (and very spoiled and not at all nice) sister Alice.  We are told that Kevin has awakened Lucy’s sensuality and taught her about trust in a relationship (as she’s not otherwise a very trusting person) but frankly, Kevin is an asshole.  We see that there are no redeeming aspects to his character at all.  He whines.  He blames everyone else for his shortcomings (eg, “It might be your fault, but it’s definitely not my fault” [that I cheated on you and slept with your sister]).  I wondered why Lucy had been with him at all.  Kevin was a caricature and didn’t fill me with confidence in Lucy’s judgment in men.  

Moving along. Lucy meets Sam early on in the story and there is an attraction but Lucy is gun shy after her breakup with Kevin.  They start to form a friendship and then Lucy is involved in an accident where she needs someone to care for her.  She moves into the house at Rainshadow Road and their relationship develops as Sam looks after her. (It makes sense in the book, trust me).

What worked for me (and what didn't): The book features “magical realism”.  During times of strong emotion glass on or near Lucy turns into real creatures – butterflies, hummingbirds, and other small animals.  I confess I don’t know much about it but, from this book, it didn’t seem to be something which really added to the story.  I felt that those parts could have been left out altogether and there would have been no loss.  I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be that way or not.  In a PNR for example, the paranormal/magical aspects of the story are necessary, but I’m not sure the same could be said here.

Tanya Eby is one of my favourite narrators.  She has a very pleasant voice to listen to.  I think I’m extra picky because there are some narrators out there who do great character voices and everything but to my ears, their “narrator” voice (i.e. the voice they use when they’re not doing dialogue) isn’t that nice to listen to.  Not the case with Tanya Eby.  She has a lovely timbre to her voice.  She also delivers a number of different female and male character voices across a range of ages.  Her voice for Sam was very sexy – kind of husky and just like I pictured him actually having.  Kevin sounded like the moron he was.  Lucy’s mother sounded more mature without being old and Lucy’s dad sounded like the distracted, somewhat uptight, professor-type he was in the text.  I’m happy to say that there is even a distinction between the voices of the 3 brothers Mark, Sam and Alex – it’s subtle, but definitely there.

I haven’t read the DIK review which was published at AAR the other day as I didn’t want it to influence my own review.  But, suffice it to say that I didn’t have quite the same experience of the book as AAR’s Pat did.  I liked it; Tanya Eby’s narration was wonderful.  I was surprised when I looked at my iPod and saw that I was 6 hours into an 8 hour audiobook and realised that Sam and Lucy’s relationship had really only just begun.  On the one hand, those 6 hours had flown by. On the other, there’s only 2 hours left and they’ve only just got together!   I ended up having the same criticism of Rainshadow Road as I did with Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor – after such a beautiful set up, the ending is rushed.  In this case, the relationship part is rushed.  We see Lucy and Sam together for 3 or 4 days when she is recuperating at his house, but then all of a sudden we move to  “over the past 2 months...” – I wanted to hear about those 2 months dammit!!  They are beautiful characters – Sam is funny and he’s a geek with cool science-y t-shirts – Lucy (despite her previously appalling taste in men) is eminently likeable.  Because those 2 months were missing in action, it was difficult for me to really buy into Sam’s conversion from “no commitment. Ever” to “marry me”. (I don’t think the HEA is a spoiler! :D)  I wanted to but I just didn’t see enough of their interactions as a couple together.  I didn’t see him completely falling for her over those 2 months.  I was only told it happened.

What would have made this book an A read for me would have been to make it longer and fill in those 2 months.  I would have had the joy of listening to Tanya Eby’s wonderful narration for more hours and I would have gotten to know those great characters better and been more convinced at the end. Oh, I believed it, but I didn’t sigh over it.  Not like I did with Hardy and Haven from Blue Eyed Devil.

What else?  There’s one other thing.  Sam and Lucy first make love very soon after her accident.  As someone who has recently had some surgery, I found this a bit hard to believe.  A few days after a significant accident where you can’t walk for a while is not a time when one is likely to feel sexy.  Romantic? Sure.  A few kisses and many cuddles definitely.  But sex?  Um, not so much.

I recommend this book. I flew through it.   It was very good; it’s worth a listen for Tanya Eby’s narration alone, but it could have been amazing and because of that, I was left feeling a little disappointed in the end. The story was engaging, the narrator excellent – I would have happily listened to more. There was just something missing for me – those 2 months!!

Grade:  B-

No comments: