I am a fan of Mary Ann Rivers, we reviewed her novella The Story Guy. So when I learned she had a new novel and a new series out I was thrilled. Mary Ann Rivers writes witty, clever and sweet romances. She captures real life so well and uniquely. Her new book did not disappoint me. Live is different than romance books I have read recently, but very close to what Mary Ann Rivers did in The Story Guy. For me, her writing style feels different because of the style of writing and the focus of the story. The style of writing is very full and detailed but that doesn’t alone describe what I mean.
“He would have like to play it cool, to lean back on the stoop and raise an eyebrow, cross his feet at the ankles. Instead, he was grinning like a child, stumbling off the last step in his eagerness to get to her.”
The text is beautiful. Every sentence is intentionally crafted. Every sentence is emotional. That is the other difference about Live for me, the story and the romance is centered on the emotional growth of the two main characters.
“He laughed, and the way she lit up made him realize that his laugh was giving her something she wanted.”
The story is told through alternating points of view between the main male and female characters. First we have Destiny or Des. She is without a job, her sister is ill, her last living parent recently passed away and she is trying to hold her siblings together. Then we have Hefin. He is temporarily working in the US, recovering from a failed marriage and planning to move back to Wales. Both are hurting and trying to figure out their lives and how they fit into the world. Neither is physically perfect, in fact Hefin is described as skinny. I don’t think I have read a romance where the male character, while strong and attractive to the female love interest, is skinny. These differences in description and the difficult point in their lives that we find these characters make this story unique. So many times, the male romantic lead is over powering, dominant and wildly successful but that is not Hefin. Hefin can’t carry Destiny off to a perfect life because he doesn’t have those resources. Mary Ann Rivers gives her readers two characters that are unique to romance literature but realistic.
While I was reading this book, in my head I kept pronouncing the title is “Liiive” (lɪv) (like, “Live from New York!”) but at the end I realized it is “Live” (short vowel sound) (like, Live your life to the fullest). This is significant, because how the name is pronounced is important to the novel. The book is about living life, not holding yourself back because of fear or emotional pain. It is about getting up when you have been knocked down, even when you don’t have anyone to help you get back up again.
I just started thinking about what would happen if I really started going after what I wanted instead of being afraid I didn’t want the right thing, or that I’d lose what it was I wanted or thought I wanted, or of messin’ up.
Live is beautifully written, well done and I just fell in love with the characters. The story includes a beautifully done back story that really makes the characters feel like they belong in a community.
“She was accustomed to small houses, big families, front stoops, peering neighbors, and older brother and sister who took over conversations, took over everything, and a younger brother who lived in her shadow.”
I love romances that have the characters interacting in a larger world; it gives the story context and richness. Live is like that. Mary Ann Rivers wrote about people I know or people I can imagine living and working.
I agree with some reviewers that Live is wordy but personally I loved that. There are many thoughtful inner monologues. Inner monologues are risky, depending on the author these can really fail — but in my opinion they did not fail in Live. This is where the readers get to know Hefin and Destiny. This is where we see their pain, their love — and how they grow as people. Oh yeah, importantly Live is a very sweet romance with steamy sex scenes.
The author set the book up to be a series and the sequel centers on Destiny’s brother – I am looking forward to it.