Summer Rain anthology

Summer RainWhy I read it:  This book of “novelettes” contains offerings by some of my favourite authors and proceeds go to a worthy cause.  Which is a bonus but not why I bought it. (Does that make me a bad person?)

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  What happens when love gets caught in the rain?

In this romance anthology, RITA-Award winning author Molly O’Keefe shows us the power of a city thunderstorm from the top of a skyscraper, while Amy Jo Cousins soaks us in a rain in Spain. New York Times bestselling author Ruthie Knox’s heroine is devastated by a winter storm, while a summer thunderstorm grants Alexandra Haughton’s hero and heroine a second chance at love. Rain sparks self-awareness in the robot in Charlotte Stein’s story and allows Mary Ann Rivers’s heroine to fall in love with her hero and her own art. Rain causes romance between the college students in Audra North’s and Shari Slade’s stories, while romance causes rain in Cecilia Tan’s myth-inspired tale of a sacrifice to a demi-god. Nine romance novelettes, edited by Sarah Frantz.

All proceeds from the volume will be donated to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States.

Note:  Some of the stories deal with issues of abuse, sexual and otherwise and/or violence.  Some readers might find them triggering to read/read about.

Redemption by Ruthie Knox:  There is a “Dear Reader” letter in the front of each of the novelettes.  Ms. Knox says Redemption is a sad story. And it is.  Both Jessie and Mike are sad. They’ve been beaten down by life and are just about at the end of their respective ropes.  Unfortunately and partly because the story is short, I found the characterisation, especially in relation to Mike to be a little thin and I didn’t see what attracted him to her and from her side of things, what made him someone more than she wanted to have sex with. Because for a year, they didn’t talk and he didn’t smile and they didn’t share anything important apart from some good sex and in the end, I didn’t buy the commitment because I didn’t see enough of those things within the story itself. The writing has a kind of haunting melancholy quality to it and there were parts which we quite lovely.  Short stories often work better for me when they are about people who already know each other. But this story seemed to take pains to tell me they didn’t know each other that well really so I was left a little unconvinced.

Live by Mary Ann Rivers

LiveWhy I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  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.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Immediately before I opened this book, I’d read Unraveled by Jen Frederick and Reaper’s Legacy by Joanna Wylde.  They don’t have much in common with each other or with Live, beyond the fact that they are all contemporary romances.  There is something in the writing style of the former two books which I would describe as “easy, effortless and engaging”.  They were both the sort of books I could read very quickly – not that they didn’t have serious moments or didn’t pack an emotional punch – they did, but the style was something I find easy to tap into. 

Rivers’ style is something else again. There’s a denseness to it. It is heavily descriptive and long on metaphor.  There is an effort required to read it.  It’s not the sort of writing one can easily skim.  Sometimes the sentences don’t make sense unless you kind of roll them around on your tongue a bit.  It takes me longer to read a book like this.  I have to concentrate more and if I get distracted I lose the rhythm of the language.  There is a reward for effort.  Uncovered in some of the beautiful language are some word pictures which are just right – a book like Unraveled has it’s own joys but so does a book like Live.

The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers

Why I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.  The first line from the blurb was enough to make me want it.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  I will meet you on Wednesdays at noon in Celebration Park. Kissing only.Carrie West is happy with her life . . . isn’t she? But when she sees this provocative online ad, the thirtysomething librarian can’t help but be tempted. After all, the photo of the anonymous poster is far too attractive to ignore. And when Wednesday finally arrives, it brings a first kiss that’s hotter than any she’s ever imagined. Brian Newburgh is an attorney, but there’s more to his life . . . that he won’t share with Carrie. Determined to have more than just Wednesdays, Carrie embarks on a quest to learn Brian’s story, certain that he will be worth the cost. But is she ready to gamble her heart on a man who just might be The One . . . even though she has no idea how their love story will end?

What worked for me (and what didn’t): This is a special little book.  At just on 100 pages, it sounds like the sort of thing you could read in an hour or two but it is meatier than that.  The words are dense on the page and having layers of meaning.  So it might take a little longer to read, but it’s totally worth it. 


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