So many of RNFF's favorite authors have new books coming out this summer that another Short Takes blog is in order for June:
As an adult, Mallory has used therapy and writing to help her come to terms with the traumas of her childhood. But John is still hauling around the albatross of his guilt, a guilt that has prevented him from reaching out to Mallory, even after the publication of her memoir about their teen year. Only after he forces himself to read a description of her memoir, The Encyclopedia of an Ohio Girl in Love, and finally realizes she loved him then as much as he loved her, does he find a courage to match Mallory's, and contact her. Such a reunion story could have felt schmaltzy, or unconvincing, in the hands of a less talented writer. But Rivers, who makes the unconventional choice to have the hero, rather than her "Venus-covered-in-sea-foam" bodied heroine, be the one still learning to cope with adult life, has the writing chops to make a more-than-persuasive case for the power of adolescent love, and its potential to last far into adulthood.
Sparks have always flown between Cash and Steph, and even though Steph broke off their relationship in college to be with another woman, soon the two are back to their old college sexual hijinks. Each insists to the other, though, that it's nothing but casual fucking. But as they spend more time together, Cash is growing increasingly frustrated with the distance Steph insists on maintaining between them, and "how badly he'd fucked up back in school when he hadn't taken her, taken them, seriously" (1961).
You might think reading an entire romance novel from the point of view of a privileged, not entirely quick-on-the-draw heterosexual guy might not be so entertaining, but you'd be oh, so wrong. Cousins does amazing work conveying the character and voice of a young man who should embody everything conventional and oblivious, but who is open and kind enough to learn that there other equally valid ways of being, and to embrace the unconventional with honesty, vibrancy, and joy.
Victoria Dahl, Taking the Heat. Harlequin, July 2015
Mary Ann Rivers, My Only Sunshine. Brain Mill Press, July 2015.
Amy Jo Cousins, The Girl Next Door. Samhain, June 2015.