In the Midnight Rain

In the Midnight Rain - Ruth Wind,  Barbara Samuel This is a really hard book to rate. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the romance between Ellie the biographer looking for her roots and Blue the vaguely alcoholic botanist haunted by his past. I liked how well the mystery plot was woven into the romance and how unraveling Mabel's story was key to understanding who Ellie was. I also enjoyed the look at race in the South without making a morality play out of it.On the other hand, though, it was an uneven book. The author introduces the mystery plot rather inelegantly, introducing the reader to so many characters so quickly that I had trouble keeping everyone straight throughout the book. The mystery itself begs too much of the reader's suspension of disbelief (Mabel has lived in town all this time under an assumed name and hasn't been recognized, despite being a great beauty, a famous singer and suspected of murder. Uh-huh. Right.) and so falls a bit flat at the end. Then, after the romance and book being up to its eyeballs in true-to-life emotion, the romance arc takes a hard turn for the conventional, serving up safe tropes that just felt out of place and out of character. After seeing how profoundly troubled Blue is for 99% of the book, a grand gesture in the final 1% didn't tie up their HEA for me. I wanted to see that resolution myself, not be assured of it by romance conventions.And so, this book was a mixed bag. Slow at the beginning, an incredibly compelling middle that kept me reading all night, then an underwhelming ending. I'd say it's between a 3* and a 4*.