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I read. Mostly Romance. I like to talk about books. The end.

The Story Guy (Novella)

The Story Guy - Mary Ann Rivers I went back and forth between a 2 and 3 with this one. Ultimately, lovely writing and an enjoyable premise couldn't make up for the plot and what I felt were weak character motivations. The more I thought about the story, the more those things bothered me. Carrie is a 30-something single woman who's feeling a bit low emotionally at the start of the story. She has a good life--loving parents, friends, nothing really to complain about, but loneliness has started to set in. One night as she was perusing the personal ads on a craig's list-like site for laughs, she came across an ad by a man looking for someone for kissing only on Wednesday afternoons. Intrigued, she answers the ad, and after an IM conversation she and Brian decide to meet. The attraction is instant an mutual, the kissing fantastic, and Carrie almost immediately decides she want more. And that's where the story starts to lose me. After two make out sessions, a few flirty IM conversations, and seriously hot phone sex, Carrie feels entitled to Brian's emotions. She insists on crossing boundaries that he very clearly delineated from the start. I couldn't get past this, and it colored how I viewed every one of their interactions from then on. Brian is a lawyer in a job he hates. He's been his sister's sole caretaker since he finished law school. Stacy suffered severe brain damage when she was 17 due to a car accident. Their mother couldn't/wouldn't care for Stacey well, and left the state as soon as Brian took over her care. Having no one other than home health aides and an adult day care facility to help him, he's completely consumed by his caretaker role, and doesn't see room in his life for anything else. Every decision he's made in his adult life has been based on how best to accommodate his sister's need, and his Wednesday kissing sessions is a way for him to find some relief without risking emotional involvement. He's so attracted to Carrie that he goes ahead and makes the leap, but I never really believed that he was ready to do that.The first person POV does Brian a huge disservice. Because while he tells Carrie about his negative feelings about his life, she has such a romanticized view of his caretaker role that we never see him being anything less than perfect. The writing gets a bit overwrought and frankly sappy at this point of the story. Stacey is used as a tool to show us how great Brian is, and because Carrie is so smitten we never see the reality of how difficult things can be. Carrie tells us, sure, but because she sees it all as evidence of what a wonderful man Brian is, I don't get the sense that she really sees Brian and Stacey is actual, complex individuals that exist outside of her feelings for him. Like when Carrie gives Stacey a bed bath:I whisper to Stacy all the things I loved about her brother, and asked if it would be okay if we shared him. I told her she would always be his little sister, but that I'd like to hang out with him too.And when they tour a residential facility :This is, of course, the privilege of love, to bear witness to a strong man's grief over the little sister he could never save, as much as he tried to, with every moment of life. And this:To live with that fear, and never have any confirmation that anything you did was the right thing? It's astonishing, every kiss he's ever given me. And that completely unsubtle language makes up the entire final third of the story. It felt very melodramatic in some points. In the end, I was unsure of Brian and Carrie's feelings for each other. Did Carrie cling to the first good man she lusted over to end her loneliness? After the all-consuming role of sole caretaker, could Brian really be able to adjust to an equal partnership so easily? I can't tell.