Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Live by Mary Ann Rivers
Series: Burnside #1
Published by Loveswept on January 21, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Amazon, Barnes & Noble
If there’s an upside to unemployment, Destiny Burnside may have found it. Job searching at her local library in Lakefield, Ohio, gives her plenty of time to ogle the hottest man she has ever laid eyes on: the sexy wood-carver who’s restoring the building. But as the rejection letters pile up, Destiny finds an unexpected shoulder to cry on. With his rich Welsh accent, Hefin Thomas stirs Destiny so completely that, even though he’s leaving soon, she lets herself believe the memory of his scorching kisses will be enough.
Hefin can’t help but notice the slender, confident woman with ginger hair who returns each day, so hopeful and determined. So when the tears start to fall, his silence—penance for a failed marriage—finally cracks. Once he’s touched her, what Hefin wants is to take her back to Wales and hold her forever. But Destiny’s roots run too deep. What they both need is each other—to learn how to live and love again.
ICYMI is a post from my early days of blogging at Yummy Men & KickAss Chicks. Mary Ann Rivers writes with such a vivid tapestry and a texture I have found with no other. I hope at some point she goes on with this Burnside series. You can see the original review here
For me, it all started with Mary Ann Rivers’ novella The Story Guy which I really, really loved. Then I commented on her facebook and won a holiday anthology, Heating Up the Holidays, that included her story Snowfall. (I reviewed that book on the blog in December :)) As soon as I finished her story, before I finished the book, I went to NetGalley and requested Live. I was so excited when I got approved, I was jumping up and down and screaming. I persuaded myself to not sit down and read it the minute I got it, to save it as a treat.
I found it difficult to write this review because it is hard to express how different and special this writer is. I’m not sure I can even qualify what makes it so amazing. I appreciated the things I do in many of my favorite books: great characters, an interesting well-written story, and the way the book makes me feel. It is also the way the words are crafted in rich and exquisite detail.
Rivers has a way of incorporating all the minute details of things and making it interesting rather than boring. I haven’t figured out how she does it. As an example, it reminds me of when you’re attracted to a man, and you notice these small things, like a curl of hair on his neck, or a bead of sweat on his neck, or a phrase he says often, and this tiny detail is unique and so him and endearing. It clutches at you every time, showing you care intensely.
Here’s an example of the way she describes with details and how they draw me in. These small bits of intimacy dropped into a mass of details hold my feelings in a tight grip.
“It’s raining here, too.”
She had absorbed that. Had loved that, actually. It put something irresistible inside of her imagination.
A single stroke of something on the canvas.
She could see Hefin, and she could see him in bed, the covers up around his ears like he preferred them, rain sliding down the outside of a window. The sound of it, like it sounded right here. “What did you do yesterday?”
“Very glamorous. I pulled up dying shrubbery from my mum’s garden and helped her stake where she wanted a new fence. Then Dad and I scrubbed his boat deck. I walked to the shore and all day, I did what I always do.”
“You thought of me.”
“I did. Yesterday I thought of how you look when you’re workin’ on something on your computer, how your forehead goes to a mass of wrinkles and if it gets very difficult and bothersome, you chew your hair.”
“I can see why you can’t stop thinking about me.”
Rivers, Mary Ann (2014-01-21). Live (The Burnside Series): The Burnside Series (Kindle Locations 4696-4704). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
I wish I were as wonderful a person as Destiny is. She is there for all the people in her life with help and kindness. Destiny has problems of her own, but she doesn’t complain; she doesn’t even ask for help. And they don’t seem to notice, other than to expect her solid presence. Hefin is from Wales and is a woodcarver. How many stories have you read about someone from Wales or about a woodcarver? Some different attributes give me some new things to learn. I adore the way he thinks about Destiny. They are both honorable, caring and interesting people.
They are ordinary people, too. They aren’t rich. They aren’t wildly beautiful. They are just real people. The story gives their situations, with complexity and depth I don’t find often in contemporary romance. All the other characters are so authentic as well, their family members, the co-workers, and neighbors. Even when they are just there for a few sentences, you feel you know them; as though they are real people. The facets of them are rather unique, not cliché at all. The odd twists of things that happen to them also are just weird enough to feel very like real people.
Hefin plans to leave when the current project is finished. They know this from the beginning. So he avoids talking to her, or getting to know her, despite their attraction. Once they do talk, they can’t help but get to know each other and become involved. Neither sees how it will work out, but they aren’t willing to stop themselves from spending the time they have together.
They give each other both help with things and emotional support, something they have both missed, while for different reasons, but both have needed. As different as Hefin and Destiny are, they share interests easily and are comfortable together. Throughout the story, they grow inside themselves, and together, sharing their hopes and dreams, the careers they have had and want now, which seems very irreconcilable, but oddly ends up working.
One of the key things, I believe, is the honesty with which both main characters look at themselves. They may wish things were different or they were different, but they are pretty honest with themselves about the actual situation. That emotional intelligence and honesty is refreshing. I also enjoy the physical aspects of their relationship are arousing with plenty of small details but yet they allow the reader to use their imaginations and attach meanings and feelings. Mary Ann talks about this a little in the interview yesterday and it is something I prefer in sex scenes.
If you’re tired of reading the same old romance about the billionaire and the girl in trouble, or any other standard romance, which follows some typical paths, Live is the book for you. It is lovely and unusual, a rare flower in a field of dandelions. I can’t recommend Mary Ann’s stories more highly.