Monday, November 6, 2017

The Sound of Rain

The Sound of Rain
Sarah Loudin Thomas
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764219610
November 2017/336 pages/$15.99

In the Dark of the Mine, In the Face of Rising Water,
In the Shadows of the Hills, Faith Will See Them Through

Judd Markley knows he can never set foot underground again. The mine collapse that nearly killed him and claimed his brother's life means leaving West Virginia forever. Although that hard Appalachian world is all he knows, he puts it behind him and heads for the open sky of the thriving town of 1954 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Larkin Heyward's life in the beach town is uncomplicated, mostly volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more and being more--maybe moving to the hills and hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she's never even met someone who's lived there--until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father's timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a hurricane that changes Myrtle Beach forever, Judd's and Larkin's dreams pull them in divergent directions. It will take a significant sacrifice to keep them together--or maybe, it will take a miracle.

Read an excerpt.


Sarah Loudin Thomas is a fundraiser for a children's ministry and has written for Mountain Homes Southern Style and Now & Then magazines, as well as The Asheville Citizen-Times. She is the author of Miracle in a Dry Season, Until the Harvest, and A Tapestry of Secrets. She holds a BA in English from Coastal Carolina University. She and her husband reside in Asheville, North Carolina. She can be found online at


Sarah Loudin Thomas has a gift for transporting readers to the heart of her stories and she once again immersed me in The Sound of Rain. From the inky blackness and desperation of the West Virginia mine collapse, to the sweltering humidity of Myrtle Beach, to the hardscrabble wooded hills of Kentucky, the sights, sounds, and even smells of this tale were all but palpable as I read. Judd and Larkin endeared themselves to me, especially Larkin, who is like so many of us with unrealistic expectations of those we think need to be "helped" when they are the ones who will teach us. Poignant and authentic, this story will touch your heart and soul. Take a load off and treat yourself to an evening listening to God speak through The Sound of Rain. You'll be richer for it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Bethany House Publishers for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


1. After wrapping up the Appalachian Blessings series, how did you decide what would come next?

I thought it was time to add a little variety to my Appalachian setting. I lived near the coast of South Carolina for ten years and loved the idea of taking a mountain man and dropping him into that hot, sandy landscape. It let me use my own experience of trying to adjust to a different climate and way of life. Neither Judd nor I ever got used to how hot it would stay all summer, even in the middle of the night. We also share a deep appreciation for Southern cooking!

2. The Sound of Rain begins with your hero nearly dying in a mine cave-in. What was it like writing that scene?

The first pages of the story are drawn directly from my great-uncle Harry’s experience as a coal miner. He would often tell the story of being trapped in a mine with that boot pressed against his cheek—although his language was more colorful than Judd’s. Hearing him talk about his brush with death certainly captured my imagination when I was a child. It also convinced me that I never wanted to step foot in a mine myself!

3. Hurricane Hazel provides a turning point in the novel. Why did you include this catastrophic event?

My first job out of college was doing public relations for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. I learned a fair amount of coastal history and was impressed with the way Myrtle Beach came to be the tourist destination it is today, largely because Hurricane Hazel wiped the slate clean in 1954. Prior to that, Myrtle Beach was a relatively quiet seaside community. After Hazel, there was literally nothing left to hinder beachfront development. Except for the Pavilion, of course, which fit right in with hotels, restaurants, and shops. This beach music mecca weathered the storm—much as Judd does in the story—a little the worse for wear but still standing.

4. Larkin is somewhat na├»ve in her notion about helping the “backward” people of Appalachia. What attitudes do you run into about the region?

I hear a lot of West Virginia jokes when I tell people where I’m from and where I set my stories. Of course, the best defense is to know more—and funnier—jokes than anyone else. I’m well aware that much of Appalachia faces serious challenges and has for generations. I hope my books highlight some of what’s wonderful and special about the region: the strength and perseverance of the people, their willingness to lend a helping hand, their pride (which can also be a shortcoming), and their love for the land. I don’t want to paint an unrealistic picture, but I do want to shine a light on the beauty of the people and the place itself.

5. What’s next for you?

In 2018, I’ll be partnering with three Bethany House authors to put together a novella collection that will trace a century or so of one particular family. A piece of jewelry links all the stories together, and each author is focusing on the generation that ties into her genre. Kristi Ann Hunter will start us out in 1827 England, with Karen Witemeyer tackling Texas in 1890. My story is set in 1950s West Virginia, and Becky Wade will close us out with a contemporary tale in Washington. It’s the first time I’ve collaborated with other authors, and it’s been so much fun. Writing can be solitary, so having others invested in my story has been a delightful experience

Many thanks to Sarah Loudin Thomas and Bethany House for providing this Q&A!


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Sarah Thomas said...

Thanks for the great review!

Beth said...

Oh! This looks so good! I just love your reviews!