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Thunder and Rain by Charles Martin

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New York Times bestselling author Charles Martin has done it again. His newest novel, Thunder and Rain, leaves readers mesmerized and begging for more. Set deep in the heart of Texas, we meet retired ranger Tyler Steele. Ty is described by the world as a modern day cowboy. His sense of honor and integrity are unparalleled by anyone, except maybe John Wayne. Defending others is what he does best, and no one seems to understand that. However, Ty has a weakness that seems impossible to overcome. He is incapable of forming emotional connections, thus leaving his wife Andie and his son Brodie desperate for love. It isn’t until Samantha and Hope enter the picture that the answer begins to reveal itself. Samantha and Hope are fugitives; on the run from a crazed ex-boyfriend who has harmed them both in horrendous ways. Tyler decides to help the woman and her daughter, and unravels his weakness in the process. Along with Ty, Andie, and Samantha, the reader discovers what it means to truly love someone.

Thunder and Rain is told from Tyler’s perspective in first person. The novel opens on a flashback, giving the reader insight on Ty and Andie. They ride on horseback together, then settle down under a tree for a picnic lunch. It is implied this event was once a regular outing, but is now rare. Andie is thin and haggard; signs of depression are revealed in her tired eyes. Before she eats, she takes a pill, which she claims is a women’s multivitamin prescribed by her doctor. Ty knows his wife is lying. When his pager beeps (the indicating sound is a crash of thunder), the date is cut short and he has to leave again for his job. Thus, the reader is introduced to Tyler Steele and his wife Andie. The tension between the couple is palpable and the reader senses the characters are stuck in a depressing situation from the start. In the second chapter, Tyler is on his way to visit Andie at the rehab center for drug abuse. On the highway, Ty is so wrapped up in thought he hits another car. The driver is not particularly happy, and lets out a string of unfriendly phrases when he gets out of his car. When he helps the woman jumpstart her vehicle and fill it up with extra gas, he hears a cough. It comes from the backseat, where a young girl is shrouded in a filthy blanket, scribbling madly in a notebook while stealing furtive glances at him. The situation grows suspicious when he escorts the woman and the child to a truck stop where the two can eat and rest. After various circumstances, Ty rescues the woman and child and takes them to where they need to go. This is Louisiana. It is out of Ty’s way, but he is determined to help this mysterious woman and her child.

Over the days, Tyler and Samantha learn to trust each other. He learns she is on the run from a dangerous situation with her daughter, Hope. She has nowhere to go. She is at a loss when Ty offers to take them back to Rock Basin, Texas, for their safety. Since Sam has no other prospects, she agrees. Weeks fly by while Sam and Hope settle in Rock Basin. Sam finds a job at a beauty salon as a pedicurist. Hope and Brodie become fast friends, as well. He teaches Hope how to ride his horse, Mr. Bojangles, and helps her take care of the guinea pig Turbo. All is quiet, all is well, until Tyler leaves to find Billy Simmons and bring justice to Hope and Sam. Sam had divulged to Ty the secret that was tormenting her. Billy is her ex-boyfriend. He seemed to be the perfect guy: good looking, great with children, SWAT team member. One day, when she came home from work, she found Hope sitting on the bed naked and crying. Sam immediately knew what had transpired. She packed her things, took her daughter, and escaped while Billy was occupied. Tyler is determined to bring justice when Sam relays her story. As it turns out, there was no need to ride to San Antonio to find Billy. Tyler is befuddled at not being able to find him. Feeling dejected, he travels back to Rock Basin, ready to tell Sam the bad news. Gunshots ring out as he nears the salon. The scene is astonishing. Sam is pointing a gun at Billy, who kneels helplessly before her. Blood runs down the side of his face where his ear used to be. The reader is literally clutching the book with white knuckles at this point, waiting to see what Sam will do. The police arrive and arrest Billy. Sam is shaken, but relieved. Justice has come. After the salon incident, life returns to normal. Sam and Tyler begin dating, which brings the four of them closer. They eat dinner together, Sam makes Tyler watch sappy romantic movies (a fresh breath from all the Westerns), and the four of them play monopoly on the front porch. This is only the calm before the storm, however. Mere weeks later, a riot breaks out at the prison. The captain of the rangers, one of Ty’s closest friends, is inside and fighting for his life. Tyler does the only rational thing: he drives his truck through the front door of the building and the gunfight of his life begins. At this point, the reader holds his or her breath in anticipation. Will Tyler live? What will happen to Sam? To Hope and Brodie? The cowboy’s life hangs in the balance, and flutters between the phases of life and death. At the last possible moment, Hope, unafraid, walks up to Tyler and whispers in his ear. No one knows what she said. But, the next day, he is alive and able to speak. When he is fully recovered, he decides to visit Sam. A thought has been gnawing on his heart, and he confesses to her, “Samantha, you have been the rain on my face. On all of me. You washed off the storm. I won’t never forget that. But years back I made a promise to Andie. We were picking out rings. I told her if she ever lost her way, that, I’d come for her. Always. I told her that. Gave her my word.” Sam is heartbroken but understands. Tyler keeps his word. He buys a ring and finds Andie in the stables. His heart soars when he sees her on horseback, but then the man she cheated on him with rides out of the barn behind her. Tyler offers the ring and declares his love for Andie, but she rejects him. For days on end, he feels depressed. He doesn’t speak to Sam, for fear that she will feel like the spare choice; the second string. Soon, she grows angry at his not speaking to her. He heads down to the river to clear his head, where Sam follows him and lectures him for leaving her. She too professes her love for him. After the argument, Tyler is relieved she still wants him. They marry under the family “marrying tree” and live happily ever after.

Thunder and Rain was an outstanding book. Martin’s writing is powerful and beautiful, artfully crafted, and keeps readers hooked until the very end. Every scene came to life in my mind. There was not a dull moment in the entire novel. I cried when Brodie had to shoot his beloved Mr. B, and teared up when Hope got married under the marrying tree at the epilogue. The characters possessed so much depth and I could relate to some of their feelings at times. I would recommend Thunder and Rain to anyone looking for something different. I usually read historical fiction or fantasy novels, but this was one of the best books I have ever read. It was refreshing to read an adventurous novel that esteemed Christian values. Everyone needs to read a good cowboy book sometimes, and Thunder and Rain is that book.

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Caesar123 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 29, 2012 at 11:30 am
Great review! The book sounds very exciting. I too, normally read fantasy or science-fiction, but I could definitely see myself reading a book like this. By the way, how did you get the book’s cover to be the corresponding picture? I’ve got a book review I’d like to submit, but I can’t figure out how to get the cover to accompany it.
PrincessGrace replied...
Aug. 30, 2012 at 1:51 pm
Thank you for reading! :) I am really not sure how I got the book cover to be the picture...maybe it just does that automatically?? I picked a different picture and was surprised to see the cover there instead haha :)
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