Rayne Amber Storm is a recent graduate with a bachelor’s in biology, on a summer break at home in Louisiana before starting medical school. She spends her days with her beloved Meemaw while dodging her mother’s schemes to marry her off. Throughout the narrative, Rayne is struggling with her self-identity and how she fits in the world, but nothing seems to ever grow from that, and a satisfactory resolution to these issues is missing. She’s questioning her sexuality and relationships, but she’s passive in how she handles both. The secondary characters are poorly developed, Grant in particular. He serves as a one-dimensional obstacle without the benefit of interesting characteristics. In addition, Rayne seems to have trouble communicating her feelings, which stagnated many of the interactions in the book for me.
The strongest relationship is clearly with Meemaw, the one person Rayne always turns to as a mother figure, and my favorite character in the story by far. She is a no-nonsense lady who loves her granddaughter unconditionally, which Rayne seems to be lacking elsewhere in her life. However, the relationship with Rayne’s mother (Charlie Grace) confused me a bit. Rayne spent much time complaining about how poorly they got along, including how Charlie Grace attempted to rule her life. However, the interactions between them described within the context of the story seemed unremarkable, and not particularly angsty. Charlie Grace buys her a brand new jeep for graduation, wants her to get married to a nice guy, and go to church, much like every mother in America. I had a difficult time seeing much reason for any antagonism, and Rayne’s strong reactions to her felt melodramatic as a result.
This book required a much more thorough editing, and at some point I actually wondered if it had been edited at all. Punctuation is sometimes missing (or misused) but more noticeable are the frequently repeated phrasing and words throughout. There were times when strikingly similar sentences were written directly following each other, which should have been caught. Additionally, the dialogue needs work to improve its consistency. The preponderance of casual Louisiana dialect spelled out phonetically isn’t a problem, per se, but it is not uniform, jumping in and out of using contractions somewhat arbitrarily. Meemaw in particular would randomly not use contractions, making her suddenly sound very formal and out of character.
The writing itself is problematic, particularly in the overly flowery language that lacks execution and comes across as nonsensical metaphors. I’ll put some examples here so you can see what I mean:
– “The wants of his desire were evident in his state and needed not to be expressed with words.”
-During a dancing scene, “Charlie Grace appeared escalated into a world of freedom found in a rhythmic beat.”
-“My body stirred again as I realized a warmth with the stinging of the vision behind my closed eyes.”
-“I couldn’t be too judgmental of his ambition as I too had never focused on the present for my vision of the future”
Those lines made my brain slam on the brakes and re-read them multiple times, which caused the flow of the story to feel disjointed. It’s not just wordy, it’s mixed metaphors that don’t particularly fit in the way they are presented. I’m a huge fan of flowery descriptions, and writing with a lyrical and poetic bent, when done masterfully. However, it missed the mark in this book, and that should have been reigned in significantly. As Mark Twain said, “don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do,” and I’m betting Meemaw would agree with him.
You can download a sample or purchase When It Raynes (Chambers of the Heart Book 1) by clicking here.