Promise Me a Rainbow(Reissue of original published in1990)
By Cheryl Reavis
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Release Date: May 21, 2012
“Daisy and Eric” had been the property of Joseph D’Amaro, a builder and stained glass artist and a widower with three children—Della, 16; Charlie, 15, and Mary Frances, known as Fritz, 7. The building industry in Wilmington, North Carolina, has taken a hard hit, and Joe has been forced to sell the sculpture. Even though he discussed the sale with his children, he failed to realize how attached Fritz is to the figures. Joe and Fritz visit Catherine’s apartment to assure Fritz that Catherine will sell the sculpture back to them if Joe ever has the money. They arrive just as Catherine is angrily ending a meeting with her former husband, who has come to tell her that he is soon to be remarried and he and his pregnant bride hope Catherine will attend the wedding. Clearly it is not the moment for the D’Amaros’ request, and Joe insists they leave.
But Fritz is persistent, and when her father drops her off at home while he returns to complete a job, she slips away without Della and Charlie knowing she’s at home and uses her milk money to catch a bus that will take her back to Catherine’s apartment. Fritz, whose mother died when she was two, explains to Catherine that she “likes things with mothers,” thus her affection for Daisy and Eric. Fritz and Catherine bond over hot chocolate with vanilla ice cream, stories, and their shared fondness for things with mothers, but when Joe comes to retrieve Fritz, he and Catherine clash. Joe is uncomfortable with Fritz’s revelations to Catherine, and Catherine finds Joe stubborn and hot-headed. Even when attraction flares, neither welcomes it. Joe has been slow to recover from the loss of his wife, and Catherine is scarred by the rejection of the man she believed would love her forever. As if their histories were not complications enough, Joe’s predatory sister-in-law and manipulative teenage daughter are determined to separate him from Catherine. Even great sex and a love that neither expected to find may not be enough to overcome all these problems.
Reading Promise Me a Rainbow makes it easy to understand why Cheryl Reavis is a four-time RITA winner. This is an emotionally powerful story about the extraordinariness of ordinary people. Catherine and Joe are likeable, interesting characters. Catherine is a wounded creature struggling to find herself in a world more difficult and lonelier than the one she thought was hers. She must come to terms with Jonathan’s betrayal of their love and her own body’s betrayal in its inability to bear Jonathan’s child. That there is no physiological reason for her barrenness makes the issue even more complex. But despite her pain, she has a vast store of compassion and understanding from which her students, her cancer-stricken friend Pat, and Fritz and Joe benefit.
Joe is a good-looking, hard-working guy with a tender heart and a determination to do the right thing. He wishes life were less complicated than it is, but he does his best with all it throws at him. He feels guilty because he was so immersed in his grief over his wife’s death that he wasn’t the father to Fritz that he wanted to be. His is not a contemplative nature, and he often speaks and acts impulsively. But his love for all three of his children is strong, and once he commits to Catherine his love and need for her are just as powerful.
Fritz is a delight. A solemn child, older than her years, who sees more than the adults around her are aware of, she feels responsible for the happiness of those she loves. And yet with her love of gummi bears and stories and her need of mothering, she is all-child. Della and Charlie are less fully developed, but Charlie’s charm and nerdiness and Della’s stylishness and attempts to be adult make them credible characters. Even the girls Catherine teaches are individuals presented with humor and heartbreaking vulnerability.
Bell Bridge is making available some of the best romance fiction of past decades to new readers. Cheryl Reavis is a writer of the same high caliber as Jill Barnett and Kathleen Eagle. If you like intelligent stories about characters who are adults with believable pasts and problems and potential, who are driven by emotional needs as much as sexual desire, I highly recommend Promise Me a Rainbow.
I know some readers don’t like books with kids in them. I do when the kids have a purpose in the story and are real kids who act their age. Cheryl Reavis does a superb job with the kids in this story. Do you like stories with children? What are your favorites?