July 2, 2013

Review: The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers

I can thank the ever-reliable Carolyn Crane for inspiring me to track down an advanced copy of this one. I read her mini-review on Goodreads and was seriously sold. She said it was romantic, smart, and full of "character mysteries," a term I had never even really thought of before but that I instantly got and loved. So it was Carolyn's review and the following little teaser line from the novella that piqued my interest:
I will meet you on Wednesdays at noon in Celebration Park. Kissing only.
Um, yes. Yes, please. Shades of Ruthie Knox's Big Boy began to drift over me (Knox actually blurbed this one). And we all know how I felt about that little bit of perfection. So basically at that point nothing--but nothing--was keeping me from giving Mary Ann Rivers' debut novella a shot.

Carrie had a minor existential meltdown at work. Just a minor one. It involved her supervisor (and friend) at the library offhandedly remarking that an Alaskan cruise with Carrie's parents was a totally valid vacation for a thirty-something single woman to take. The conversation devolved from there, and Carrie wound up surfing the web at three in the morning picking out used furniture she doesn't need and questioning the series of life choices that brought her to that point. Then, in need of the kind of comfort only browsing the singles ads on Metrolink can provide, she ran across one that stood out from all the others. Kissing only, it said. He would be there every Wednesday without fail. Either party is free to back out at any time. Simply don't show up, and the other will understand it's over and they will part as indifferent strangers. And so just for a lark, just because she's alone and not actually interested in going on that Alaskan cruise with her folks anymore, Carrie answers the post. And so she meets Brian. And so she is soon on the receiving end of the kiss to end all kisses. And so begins a non-relationship that she might never want to let go. If she can only figure out how to be more than just Wednesdays.

The Story Guy is singularly addicting. The protagonist is a teen services librarian, for crying out loud. So obviously, she and I were like this from page one. Then she had to go and be all philosophical and perceptive about singles ads online and it was like my eyes had fastened on her plight and nothing could tear them away. It helps that I resonated with the way she narrates her life and, most of all, with the way she calmly assesses the rabbit hole she's gone down and goes about doing what she needs to in order to hold onto the wonder she finds there. For example:
I should take his kisses with me and go. But with a seeping, resolute calm, I decide to keep him. I am not losing these Wednesdays, even if I can't have anything else. "Stop. It's okay. Don't explain--I swear it's fine."

"It doesn't have to be." His flush is draining, his eyes clearing. The tendrils of heat between us lose their moorings in the breeze. I shiver.

"But it is." I straighten up. Fix my own glasses. He is looking at me with doubt. "It is." And as soon as I say it, it's true. I go back to feeling tender, but the feeling is overlaid with a new trust, which when I examine that trust later may feel misplaced, but I am fine to act on that trust now.

I have never been gladder for my own uncomplicated life, the simple love I've had from my family and friends, for my interesting daily work and the unencumbered lifestyle I created for myself. I have room for this.
It was that resolute calm that really got to me. Well, that and the kissing. Naturally. And, yes, in case you were wondering, this is a book where she saves him. She so saves him, you guys. And does he ever need it. The thing is, they're both just right down in the trenches of life. Right down in them. The loneliness and the doggedness and the relentlessness of every one of their days stole my breath they were so close to the surface. The similarities to Knox's Big Boy did hover around the edges of my mind as I read, although The Story Guy has a sweeter overall tone, flirting near the edges of precious particularly near the end. Gratefully, Rivers' sure way with words saves it from irrevocably crossing that line. So if you like quietly beating stories about girls who save their guys and guys who are actually so very nice but have convinced themselves they're not nice at all, then this book is undoubtedly for you. Lastly, just for you guys, my favorite passage:
My path is the nice one. The one filled with friends who will smile when I buy their children books for their birthdays. Who will take me out, sometimes, when I call on a random night because I can't settle down. The path with peaceful holidays with my parents, and reasonable work promotions at reasonable times.

The path with nice men, who take me on nice dates where I learn their last names the minute we shake hands at the bar.

A path clear of a man with eyes that drift into some private sorrow. A path that will never lead to a man whose hands shake when he holds my face for a kiss that feels like falling.
I rest my case.

The Story Guy is due out July 8th.

Buy: 

Linkage
Karen Knows Best - "This was an intensely emotional read all around, for me."

20 comments:

  1. Bwahaha Angie, I thought of you while I was reading this one! I requested a copy at NetGalley after seeing Mandi of Smexy Books tweet about it. Sigh, such a lovely little novella. Kept thinking it was similar to Big Boy and a perfect Angie book. Glad I wasn't wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So funny that we were reading this one at the same time! I'm so glad you liked it, too. It's such a good premise, I think it's pretty impossible not to be sucked in immediately.

      Delete
  2. Oh my. When I lived In New York each time I saw the sign "36 Bridges To Kiss Under" in central park I sighed...and daydreamed. I'm in. I am so in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sigh. That does sound nice.

      Fair warning, all the kissing does lead somewhere . . .

      Delete
    2. Multiple Choice Response}
      {A} Why all kissing leads to a game of parcheesi I'll never know...{Name That Movie - Not an exact quote}
      {B} The question is, does the post-kissing action happen on a Wednesday...?
      {C} I figured...I mean, no one ever meets every Wed in Central Park to kiss without it going somewhere...
      {D} Kissing {add comma}!

      Delete
    3. {A} Ooh, ooh. I'll take Paris When it Sizzles for $200, Alex.
      {B} You know, I believe it does!
      {C} Ain't it the truth.
      {D} The whole thing is rather sweet.

      Delete
  3. Wow! This sounds great! I'm totally intrigued!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. It had me at hello.

      Delete
  4. ....I am dying to read this now. O_O

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe. It's a good hook. And the writing is rather lovely.

      Delete
  5. All I'm saying is GIVE ME NOW. I read your review of Big Boy first because you mentioned it and I've bookmarked it on Amazon. As soon as I get paid this Friday, I'm buying that sucker. And this? I can hardly wait five more days for it!

    Why are you so amazing at convincing me that most of what you read is amazing? You're going to make me broke. I have NOWHERE BUT HOME drifting in my cart, waiting for Friday. I loved it, and I'm sure I'll love this and Big Boy and anything else you want to throw at me.

    Dammit, Angie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL

      I'm so giddy you have all three of those in your cart!! Cannot wait to hear what you think. BIG BOY . . . I mean, wow. And NOWHERE BUT HOME is just wonderful in every way. *happy*

      Delete
  6. Just finished this one. Some of the sex scenes were a little much but I liked Carrie, loved that she was a librarian, and thought Brian was great. The situation with his sister reminded me of Laura Linney's character in the movie Love Actually - have you seen it? I need to visit chez Angie for more romance titles. I can't get enough!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the beta hero and the girl who saves him worked nicely for me in this one. I *think* I saw Love Actually a long time ago. Funny that I can't remember for sure since I know it's a fave for so many. Prob should do a rewatch just to check.

      You're always welcome. :)

      Delete
  7. I JUST bought this because of Chachic's review and then I read this review and I think to myself GOOD LIFE CHOICE! I cannot wait. Also, I might have to give Ruthie Knox a shot as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. Excellent life choice, April!

      Just promise me you'll start with Knox's BIG BOY and go from there. SO AMAZINGLY GOOD.

      Delete
  8. A wonderful love story told from a new and heartbreaking perspective. Totally engrossing and lovely characters. Couldn't put it down.

    ReplyDelete