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The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers

Title: The Story Guy
Author: Mary Ann Rivers
Genre: contemporary romance
Published: 2013
Rating: 5 stars

Wow. For a novella (it’s just over 100 pages of story total), this one packs quite a wallop. I managed to make it through to the end okay, but then the first two paragraphs of the author’s acknowledgements, of all things, had me in tears. The good, happy kind, of course. I’m going to start stalking this author’s website to see when her next book comes out for sure.

Carrie West has my dream job—well, one of them, anyway—she’s a librarian in the teen section of her city’s main library branch. She’s single, a “Lady of a Certain Age” and the only child of blissfully happily still-married parents. Her IM name and email are library related (“lieberries” and, she carries a “Reading is Sexy” tote to work, and don’t even get me started on the awesomeness that is her tattoo. (Yep, I’m totally jealous. Why didn’t I think of that?) She has two very close friends from work, and she also gets along well with their significant others. For the most part, she’s fairly content with her life.

For the most part.

But she often has trouble sleeping, and when she does she turns to her computer. She reads the “Furniture for Sale” classifieds from her local paper, even though her studio apartment is tiny and already cozily furnished. And sometimes she reads the personals.

One night—okay, morning—after a particularly tough day at work, a recent posting catches her eye. It’s the picture that she notices first—it’s a clear, candid shot that seems to be more of a portrait than a photo. Then she reads the text.

I will meet you on Wednesdays at noon in Celebration Park. Kissing only. I won’t touch you below the shoulders. You can touch me anywhere. No dating, no hookups. I will meet with you for as long as you meet me, so if you miss a Wednesday we part as strangers. No picture necessary, we can settle details via IM. Reply back with “Wednesdays Only” in the subject line.

Carrie emails a response almost without thinking, and even though it’s an ungodly hour of the morning quickly gets an IM response from Brian, the man she agrees to meet in Celebration Park at noon the following day. And so it begins.

Seriously, this story just blew me away. It was steamy, moving, poignant, and funny. I loved Brian and adored Carrie. I strongly suspect that Carrie and I were separated at birth, actually. Even though this novella is fairly short on page count, somehow I couldn’t just read this book quickly—it felt, like Brian’s personal picture, as if it had many layers that I needed to investigate at a slower-than-usual reading pace. (Though, yes, I still read it in a day. It’s summer break! And I’m probably going to read it again before school starts up again in the fall—it’s that good.)

And I am totally getting myself one of those “Reading is Sexy” totes. Or maybe the hoodie.

In a nutshell: a fabulous novella that manages to put a world of emotion into a relatively few number of chapters. 5 well-deserved stars.

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