Rating: 4.5* of five
Don't kid yourselves, it's a big fat honkin' deal when I review a collection of poetry with almost five stars. I'm not a poetry-first kind of an old queen. It's really important to remember that when I say I would sit and listen to this poem cycle being read or (preferably) sung Lied-style to me.
I will seek this young woman's poetry out in future. Yes, you read that right: I'll go buy other books she writes with my very few United States dollars. Read my review, then go buy this collection, to see why you should too.
John Lake owes his label an album—and has for months. Alone in his farmhouse studio outside of Lakefield, Ohio, he hears the music, but he won’t write it down. All the songs remind him of her.
Fifteen years ago, Mallory Evans was a fairy-haired warrior-poet. John couldn’t figure out why no one in high school noticed. He noticed, and he came to her window every evening before darkness came and the private violence of her home life threatened. Then, inevitably, one terrifying night broke the sweet spell between them.
John hasn’t seen Mallory since, but he’s looked for her—in his audiences, in his dreams. Now he decides that if he can’t find the inspiration to finish an album, he can at least find Mallory and finish what has always been between them.
I have such mixed emotions about this novella. I love it in places and then I feel really let down in other ways.
I am huge fan of Mary Ann Rivers. Her lyrical writing, detailed settings, careful attention to psychology, realistic portrayal of the push and pull of attraction, ache of vunerabilty, nuances of falling in love are in a class of their own.
I am super excited about her and Ruthie Knox's press, Brain Mill, which in there own words features “LOVE BOOKS FOR HUMANS”: To us, Love Books are books about experiences with love. They may be romances—the kinds of books so many of you discovered us with—or they may be books that explore love in an entirely different way, or explore entirely different kinds of love. These are books about humans, all humans, and are meant to reach readers who define humanity based on their own lived experiences, of all kinds. Our purpose as a press is to build a catalog of stories about all facets of the human experience with love.
Nice right? I will likely stick to the romances because in my leisure reading I want the HEA and non platonic love but I like the idea of the press very much as it doesn't confine writers to "best selling" tropes.
My Only Sunshine is one of the first books from the press and I clicked over and purchased it as soon as I could.
Here is what I loved about novella:
It is a great cover with a real sized woman as the model. I adore her lushness and so does the hero. I adore that.
The writing is lovely as are the details of the setting.
It has a back in forth in time setting that works well for this romance which deals in the argument that first love (puppy love) is as any other love and as real.
The heroine is funny and charming. She is sexually confident and the sexy times have fun infused in the love making.
Why I was disappointed:
Whatever the page count might be for this novella, it felt short. Really, really short. I am so happy to support the press but I felt that I paid much more than I should have for this brief of book. I rarely ever feel like this. It was kind of like buying a product you can't see and finding out what was mostly in package was space. It is likely my fault and that I didn't read the page count. My bad.
However, it fell short as well. The love story longs for more pages and more couple time in the now. We get a Happy for Now (barely really) ending. I understand that the weight of the premise is on that first love but since we get a reunion I wanted to see this relationship in action. I wanted more time with them falling in love again and more importantly loving in the day to day. So, I wasn't sated at the end of the book. I was hungry for more. Not my favorite end of book feeling. I was unsatisfied
The opening of the book was confusing. I had no idea whose head I was in and the first person point of view felt suffocating at times. I am really interested in Rivers writing in the 3rd person. I would love to see that.
The hero and the heroine both make reasonable and yet far from well reflected on choices in their professions that I would like to see really tackled and witness growth around. I don't want to give away what those things are but if you read the book you know that I am talking about.
So, yeah. Mixed feelings. It is an interesting and compelling book but not fulfilling and I think it could be.
Rivers pushes the romance genre in so many excellent ways. But I think there is, for me, some work to be down in terms of the best parts of the genre to be cherished more and working on the living with love that is often shortchanged in the genre that Rivers has the talent and the innovation to explore.
As far as I know, you need to go to the Brain Mill Press website if you wish to purchase this book early.