Author: Cathryn Hein
Cathryn Hein is a talented rural romance and romantic adventure author that I have read, though not enough of. A common theme through the books I have read is wrenching heartbreak that affects the reader as well as the characters and April’s Rainbow is no different.
Tristan Blake is a shy farmer with the land in his blood, but he’s also the fourth son so there’s not a lot for him on the family farm. The property he has been working on since school is embroiled in a family dispute so he is intrigued by the ad for a farm manager. Tristan has always dreamed of owning a property of his own and the generous terms of this ad have him excited.
The local lawyer handling the position had Tristan in mind even before he applied, and before he knew it Tristan was living his dream on the local property Rainbow. Tristan is painfully shy and has trouble talking to people so when he first comes face to face with Melbourne artist April Tremayne they get off to a pretty awkward start.
April is a tragic beauty, right from the beginning you know that something has happened to her. A great loss has shattered her, that we can see from very early on but it isn’t until much later that we discover what it is.
For something a little bit different, Tristan is our storyteller in April’s Rainbow. It’s not often we have the story told by the hero and it worked really well.
Tristan’s shyness is a hindrance to his everyday life but out on the farm he is in his element, and the more time he spends with eccentric artist April the more confident he becomes.
April’s Rainbow is a tale of all-encompassing grief, courage and love. Hein explores the point where grief moves into mental illness. April has purchased Rainbow because the property spoke to her, it connected her with her grief and instead of helping her to heal it sucked her deeper into the abyss.
Hein explores April’s art and the way it works through her grief. I think it was always designed to help but as is often the way with the best laid plans, it backfired; leaving Tristan with a horrible decision to make.
April is a wild and eccentric character; drawn so vividly it is hard not to feel that manic energy she exudes, until things start to turn dark. The thought of April’s suffering is absolutely heartbreaking and a thought you don’t even want to entertain so the lengths she goes to are quite understandable.
April’s Rainbow is just on 180 pages which isn’t very long for a complete story, especially one with this depth. There isn’t a lot of room for back story and elaboration which can leave you with that feeling of incompleteness, or not quite getting to know the characters well enough. That is not the case here; Hein has managed to fit the entire tale of love, loss and courage into this volume and written characters with a lasting affect.
The story contains a heartbreaking storyline, there’s no denying that, but there are also some very sweet moments and a quite lighthearted side with some amusing moments. April’s art is inspiring and I am left wishing I could see some of her pieces.
April’s Rainbow is book #8 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.