Review: Live by Mary Ann Rivers

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This book just sucked me in. I was speaking Hefin’s parts with my own version of a Welsh accent (think English, Scottish and Irish all rolled into one… spoken by an American… Scary, I know). I was conscious of my own bony hips when Hefin stared at Destiny’s. I smelled the library Destiny spent time in and the new wood panels Hefin carved. I was seriously in Lakefield, Ohio for a few days.

If you love a falling-in-love story, you’ve got to read Live. The emotions are written truthfully and deliberately, Destiny and Hefin wanting each other and then needing each other and then loving each other.

My favorite thing about Live is that the love is shown in actions, not just feelings. Destiny sacrifices her personal life to care for her sister. Hefin helps with Destiny’s twig project, even when he thinks he may have lost her. Betty pulls a fast one to make sure Destiny gets a chance at, well, her destiny.

Mary Ann Rivers gives the reader a substantial romance, replete with a lot of slow sex, agonizing decisions, and an intercontinental separation. The book is heart-wrenching at times. I cried so much you would’ve thought I was part of the book.

Live is also a story about a family and a neighborhood, with all the mistakes and ludicrousness and eye-rolling you’d expect. Betty and the limo provided some levity, and I laughed in between my tears.

Among the love story and the family dynamics was a big thought to ponder: a person needs to be loved enough by their family in order to feel worthy of love from a lover. I asked myself if I was, and then put myself in the shoes of the people I love. ❤️

The only niggling thought I had at the end was that I wished there was more of Destiny’s brother Paul. But I betchya his story will be in a future installment in this Burnside Series… and I can’t wait.

-Calliope

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Blog Tour w/ Author Guest Post & Review: Live by Mary Ann Rivers

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Mary Ann Rivers (2)

Mary Ann Rivers was an English and music major and went on to earn her MFA in creative writing, publishing poetry in journals and leading creative-writing workshops for at-risk youth. While training for her day job as a nurse practitioner, she rediscovered romance on the bedside tables of her favorite patients. Now she writes smart and emotional contemporary romance, imagining stories featuring the heroes and heroines just ahead of her in the coffee line. Mary Ann Rivers lives in the Midwest with her handsome professor husband and their imaginative school-aged son.

Ten Things About Mary Ann Rivers

*I have never really decided what to do with my hair, though I pine for a statement look.
*I sometimes listen to the same song all day long.
*I play the cello.
*I’ve kept some kind of journal or diary for thirty years (I am 39).
*I’ve gone to see all the presidential candidates I’ve voted for speak in person.
*I’d rather have drinks with three or fewer people than go to a party.
*I once surprised a burglar in the process of breaking into our home. I had got up to go to the bathroom. He ran away, so I assume I was completely terrifying in my t-shirt and underpants.
*Writing is the primary way I entertain myself, if I have a choice. I’m always writing something.
*I’ve been reading romance since I was ten-years-old. When I was eighteen, I wrote to Jude Deveraux, and she wrote back (this was before the internet, so I wrote her in care of her publisher).
*I’m married to a Shakespeare scholar who is semi-famous (for Shakespeare scholarship).

BOOK REVIEW

18630722 Mary Ann River has a way with words. Yes I know she’s an author and that should be kind of obvious but her way of words just kind of leaves me breathless. They work their way deep inside you and just kind of settle there and resonate with you. I’m still thinking of The Story Guy and Snowfall – her first 2 novellas I read last year. Every once in a while a particular scene of Brian and Carrie pops in my head because it was so beautiful or I think of Jenny and Evan and their scene in the car. So when her first full length novel came out I was so freaking excited!

The Burnside Series is about a family of siblings in a town in Ohio, both parents have passed away and they are generally pretty close. Destiny, who goes by Des, is feeling pretty broken at this point in her life. Her father passed away last year, her sister’s health is getting scarily bad and her unemployment is also reach the dangerous point. Des has even begun driving her father’s old limo around to pick up some extra money. She spends most of her free time at the library, looking for jobs. During that time she falls in lust with a gorgeous Welsh man, whom she would never dream of approaching. But when he approaches her to help stop her tears one day she’s startled.

Hefin is some sort of Welsh god. For some reason I just fell in love with everything about him immediately. This is not always true of all romance heroes – many times that needs to be kind of drawn out but not with Hefin. He comes across as quiet, charming and sweet but without the cockiness of some typical romantic tropes. But from the beginning he is also just as broken as Des seems to be – he came to the US to get married, not knowing anyone. The marriage did not work out and left Hefin feeling homesick. To that end he is leaving and Des and he both are completely aware of this at the outset of their romance.

Their romance is tentative and beautiful, made more so on both parts because they set out on the journey both knowing it would end with Hefin leaving Des in Ohio. From here we get to see different parts of Des and her interacting with people both in her neighborhood and in her family. I’ve read that Rivers wanted to make both of those an integral part of the whole series and I’m so glad because the interactions with neighbors and the history that will bring going forward is definitely something I look forward to.

What makes this whole book work overall is the writing style and the characters. The writing is lyrical and poetic and touches on different topics such as grief, divorce and illness. I was thrilled not to be disappointed since I had such ridiculous high hopes for this book. I look forward to the next book in this series which comes out in May and will be Sam’s book – Love.

I received this ARC via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

5 Stars

~Clio

Buy it Now Live (The Burnside Series): The Burnside Series

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Review and Blog Tour: After Midnight, by Serena Bell

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I really enjoyed all three of these novellas. They were the perfect combination of saucy and sweet. I always seem to read a ton of Christmas books during November and December. This novella was a nice change of pace, since it was set around New Year’s instead.

The clock is ticking down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, and all Nora Hart and Miles Shephard can think about is kissing each other—even though they met just minutes before. Then, as fast as Miles enters Nora’s life, he’s gone… and she never even gets the name of the man she thinks might just be “the one.” One year later, Nora and Miles are reunited. The chemistry between them is just as strong as they remember. But Miles broke her heart once before—and this time around, Nora’s not sure whether she can give love a second chance.

AFTER MIDNIGHT – Excerpt from Chapter 1

December 31.
11:41.
11:42.
11:43.
At this rate, it would never be midnight, and Miles Shepard would never say a permanent good night to this sadistic son-of-a-bitch year.
He stuck his phone back in his pocket and let his eyes wander over the party. They were in someone’s twenty-second-floor condo, all brushed nickel and rice paper lamps and screens and edgy, modern furniture. Well-dressed Bostonians—they’d left their Uggs and Pats jerseys and twenty-year-old Sox caps homes tonight—monitored TVs tuned to network coverage of New Year’s events in various U.S. and world cities. The collective effect of an apartment bedecked with garlands of black and white streamers and metallic silver balloons, full of women in cocktail dresses and sparkly tops and ass-hugging jeans, was—well, if it hadn’t quite carved through the numbness that had been Miles’s constant companion for the last few weeks, it had at least chipped into it.
His childhood friend Owen was talking to a tall blonde in high-heeled boots, skin-tight silver pants, and a black velvet tunic. She towered over him, but it didn’t appear to intimidate Owen in the slightest. Owen grinned and told the blonde something with his usual complement of hand gestures, and she smiled back and dipped her head.
Owen was one of those guys with mysterious appeal—he was thin to the point of near scrawniness, with a head of hair that was as unruly as a yellow dandelion, but women found him easy to talk to. Miles guessed that a month ago, you could have said the same about him. These days, Miles wasn’t talking much, so if anyone was saying anything about him tonight, it was, “What’s up with the block of stone in the corner?”
The thing was, Miles knew Owen had his back. If anyone trash talked Miles, Owen would be ready with a slapdown. When Miles had called him last week to say he needed to get the hell out of Cleveland and had no place to go, Owen had picked him up at Logan airport, opened his condo to Miles, taken Miles to his sister’s house in Newton for Christmas, and otherwise tried to convince Miles his world hadn’t ended. Like maybe it was in some kind of weird suspended animation and at some point they’d unfreeze Miles and let him have another chance at it.
So for Owen, Miles would endure this party, even if it stayed 11:44 forever, like some punishment straight from the hyper-imaginative Greek gods.
A shriek cut through the hectic bounce of “Come on Eileen” and he looked up to see a woman dancing her heart out. He definitely wasn’t completely numb because his gaze fastened on the jiggle of her breasts under her shiny black tank top. Blood didn’t exactly rush south—it moved thickly through his bloodstream—but at least it was moving. Those were some awesome breasts, and he didn’t only mean awesome-cool—he meant awesome in its original awe-inspiring sense. They were the size and firmness that typically had to be purchased, but he knew real when it danced, and those were one hundred percent real.
His eyes traveled upwards and—whoops!—met hers. She’d been watching him stare at her breasts like an eleven-year-old unschooled horny boy. He made a wry apologetic face, and she laughed. Man, she was pretty, and not in a cover-of-a-magazine standard-issue way. She had strawberry blond hair cropped pixie short, an adorable, mobile face, elfin ears and a long, skinny nose. He didn’t usually go for short hair, but it worked on her, probably because the rest of her was so indubitably female.
And now she was dancing and holding his gaze and his face got hot as his blood picked up pace and got serious about things. His gut clenched, his dick was heavy now, and she was moving for him. Still holding his gaze. The way she danced, it wasn’t sexual, not really. It was just uninhibited. Kind of—joyful. She had this grin on her face that was nine-tenths of what made her so pretty. Most people never looked that happy about what they were doing.
He wanted to cross the floor and—
And what? And proposition some woman he’d never met before in a city that wasn’t his when his life was in knots?
Yeah. Brilliant idea.
He broke the connection, turned away. He headed for the food table, which must have been catered because this was no half-assed assortment of stuff people had scavenged from their pantries. There was a ham whose smoky flavor was addictive—Miles had eaten way more than his fair share an hour ago—and a cheese assortment that had probably cost several hundred dollars by itself. The dip-and-veggies setup was a work of art, not a grocery-store plastic-tray affair. Between the platters, bouquets of mylar balloons urged him to have a Happy New Year’s. He frowned at them.

You will love all three of these stories. I honestly fell in love with the cover, even before I knew who was writing in it. I mean, seriously, look at this cover.

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So head over to Amazon and snag Heating Up the Holidays 3-Story Bundle (Play with Me, Snowfall, and After Midnight): A Loveswept Contemporary Romance right now. At the time of posting, it’s only 99 cents!!

Be sure to enter the a Rafflecopter giveaway

~Melpomene

Review: Heating Up the Holidays 3 Story Bundle

18283138 Heating Up the Holidays is a 3 story bundle with Play With Me by Lisa Renee Jones, Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers, and After Midnight by Serena Bell.

I want to devote this whole review to Snowfall because I overwhelmingly loved this novella. I count myself as incredibly lucky to have read Mary Ann Rivers’ debut of The Story Guy just a few months ago. I fell in love with her intelligent and humorous writing then but hoped that it wasn’t just a one time thing. This second novella shows me that I’m not to be disappointed!

Jenny Wright moves into her new housing in Ohio where she is doing research as a Microbiologist. When she moves in she gets mail for the previous tenant which leads to online communication between herself as “Lincoln” and “C’. They begin to flirt online back and forth less and less innocently. Meanwhile Jenny is dealing with slowly losing her sight due to a degenerative disease. She’s horrified at this idea and cannot wrap her mind around this. Jenny is working with Evan Ford, her Occupational Therapist to try to make her life a little more manageable while the changes happen.

I cannot express my love for this book and this author in the right way. Yes there are scientific and technical terms throughout the book due to Jenny’s technical occupation. Halle-freaking-lujah! I, for one, was so happy to read a book, even a novella, that had an intelligent woman, with a scientific job as the main character. I’m not a scientific person but I was able to read this just fine. There are many books that tend to be dumbed down in general and I didn’t feel like this at all with this book. I was racing to get to the end of the novella, the last 20% or so I finished and then immediately re-read because I was doing my speed reading to get to the ending.

Jenny and Evan are so very real, very funny people. Jenny does not take slowly losing her eyesight very well and tends to throw fits, which I can only imagine would be the case in the real world. I just really appreciate the intelligence and humorous insight that this novella seems to have.

So obviously, I am supposed to be having some kind of therapeutic moment here, where my other senses get honed on the strap of this exercise and maybe later I’ll finger-spell W-A-T-E-R into his ginormous hand and we’ll embrace with joyous laughter.

Also there is a small piece at the end of the story that just about killed me. A very small detail which will probably stick with me for a very long time.

I absolutely cannot wait for the full length novel debut of Mary Ann Rivers, Live, coming in January of 2014. I have a feeling that she will be an auto buy for me for pretty much ever.

Buy it Now Heating Up the Holidays 3-Story Bundle (Play with Me, Snowfall, and After Midnight): A Loveswept Contemporary Romance

Review (Another Look): The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers

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Clio wrote a great review of this novella on July 16… So this will be brief.

Mary Ann Rivers writes so the reader is in the story with the characters. I felt part of the book – and I think that’s one sign of successful writing.

For one, I thought I would be freaked out reading about a librarian meeting a stranger in the park every Wednesday for a make-out session. But I wasn’t. Mary Ann Rivers wrote in the apprehension as well as the excitement (and the relief when the Wednesday guy turned out to be nice and normal), and I felt it right along with Carrie.

In this age of the Internet and texting, sometimes it’s easier to show our real selves to a stranger instead of a friend. That’s what Carrie and Brian did. They spilled their guts in instant messages, and got to know each other better than if they had gone on a month’s worth of coffee dates. Awesomely, I got to know Carrie and Brian, too, and I got to see how perfect they were for each other.

You know the feeling you get when you first start dating someone? Like there’s no one else to think about? Like no one else in the world exists? Rivers did an amazing job using the precise words and manner to give me that novel feeling of beautiful isolation. Brian and Carrie were in their own little world, until they were ready to face the world together.

Rivers has a talent for immersing the reader in her story. I look forward to more by her.

Netgalley provided me with this book in exchange for an honest review.

–Calliope

Buy It Now The Story Guy (Novella)