Jan 17 2014 12:00pm

First Look: Mary Ann Rivers’s Live (January 21, 2014)

Mary Ann Rivers
Loveswept / January 21, 2014 / $2.99 digital

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.

Mary Ann Rivers's debut full-length, Live, will make you curl up with your box of tissues and cry until you’re not even sure whether they count as happy or sad tears. Rivers's world and characters feel so real, their emotions so raw, that I need the almost poetic beauty of the words to bear so much truth.

The fictional town of Lakefield, Ohio, the site of the quartet of Burnside novels, seems like many other small-town romance locations until you look closer. The residents here have known each other all their lives. There are quirky characters. But in this town, having people who know all your secrets aren’t a magic cure for any difficulties. A hug or a plate of meatloaf left in your refrigerator aren’t enough to erase sadness and fear. If anything they make it more poignant, those friends who stand witness to the ordinary tragedies and miracles of the heroine Des’s life.

Des often thought that Lakefield, Ohio, was not a beautiful city, even on a pretty spring evening.

[…] A mental map of the city felt engraved into her brain from countless ride-a-longs with her dad, doing her homework in the huge front seat, her books laid out on the dash.

Destiny Burnside is poor. Not romance novel heroine poor, but got-laid-off, sold-the-car-to-make-rent poor. The unflinching way her struggle to make ends meet and hold onto some shred of her pride is painful, but I loved her even more as a heroine for her lack of self-pity. She doesn’t ignore how desperate her finances are as time passes and she still can’t find a job but she soldiers on. She is also trying to hold her siblings together on the heels of their father’s death and her sister’s life-threating accident. Her grief is still fresh as she holds onto every last memory of her dad, clinging to the past, fighting the changes life has forced on her family.

Now she was the only one who seemed to remember that there was a way that they could all fit.

She was the only one who had watched and listened and stood by and understood that whatever each of them had to offer the world, they had the most to offer each other, as a family.

And then she meets Hefin Thomas, a beautiful man who makes her smile and shares his donuts and helps her get a much needed temporary job. And then he tells her he’s leaving, heading back home to Wales.

“What’s the thing you miss most about Wales?”

Myself. “My mum and dad. The part of the shore I can see from her garden. There’s a jetty that curls into it and at night, even if the sea is calm, you can hear the water splash against it.”

Hefin is older, with a history and an ex-wife—a not evil ex-wife, one whom he even still likes—but he hasn’t been home since the divorce and it is well past time he went there and picked up the pieces of his life. The really small seaside town he grew up in is as much a character in the novel as Lakefield.

As much as they both know the timing is off, Des and Hefin can’t help but fall in love. Because of course they are perfect for each other. They spend the weeks Hefin has left sliding, eyes wide open, into a relationship they know they can’t have.

Even though I was sure there was going to be a HEA in their future, I spent much of the book not even certain how I wanted them to resolve their problems, what they could give up that wouldn’t seem more of a loss than a compromise.

Learn more or order a copy of Live by Mary Ann Rivers, available January 21, 2014:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & Noble



Julia Broadbooks writes contemporary romance. She lives in the wilds of suburban Florida with her ever patient husband and bakes ridiculous amounts of sugary treats for her teens' friends. Find her on Twitter @juliabroadbooks.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Adored The Story Guy and really looking forward to this book. Thanks for the review!
Julia Broadbooks
2. juliabroadbooks
And did you read Snowfall? I loved that too. But Live is even better because it's longer!
Post a comment