Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Live (Burnside, #1)Series: Burnside #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: 1/21/14
Format: eARC
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 stars

Mary Ann Rivers kicks off a new contemporary romance series—sure to please readers of Ruthie Knox, Kristan Higgins, and Jill Shalvis—where love can be found unexpectedly.

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.

Let me start by saying that Live is a book I feel ridiculously unqualified to review. Well, maybe not unqualified, but this book deserves the best of me, when what I really want to say is: "Wahhhhh I loved this book so much and I'm so happy I read it and I think you should read it too!"

So. Let me attempt to explain why Live was such an amazing read for me. I want to talk about Destiny and Hefin first, but to understand why they had such an impact on me, I must talk about Mary Ann Rivers's writing. And to talk about River's writing, I need to discuss a couple of other authors. Presently, two of my very favorite authors are Cara McKenna and Laura Florand. There are elements to their styles that work for me on every level. The stories are so good, but it is the attention to the small, intricate details of a character or a moment that blows me away. It could be the small sigh that comes from a touch, or the flush of their skin in a moment of excitement, or the emotion that passes through the eyes in a powerful moment. You just cannot take these authors' words for granted, because if you miss even one sentence you might miss so much. The story may seem a bit subdued or quiet, but is incredibly powerful. These authors are my catnip. The reason I am telling you this is that with Live, Rivers has placed herself on my list. Her story was so gorgeous it made my heart ache.

Live is a story of "hellos" and "goodbyes". About forgiveness and having the courage to reach for what you truly want. Destiny Burnside spends every day at the library, job searching. Her father recently died, her sister was in a debilitating accident, she lost her job, she and her siblings are drifting apart. Every day, she watches Hefin Thomas, a woodcarver doing a restoration project at the library. One day the stress becomes too much, and while Destiny is quietly crying, Hefin approaches her. Apparently he's quietly noticed her as well. Hefin consoles Destiny, helps her in the search, and the two strike up a friendship of sorts. I say of sorts because it is very quickly apparent that the two are wildly attracted to each other. Their bodies and souls seem to literally be drawn to one another.

Hefin, though, is set on returning to his home country, Wales. (Yes, he's a Welsh woodcarver who is sensitive and sexy. His forearms are a sight to behold And he blushes. A lot. Control yourself if you can.) A quick and failed marriage that lead to unhappiness and resentment has made Hefin weary. He misses his old occupation, his family, and his home. His mind is set on leaving, and he tells Destiny that he will not ask her to come with him. Seems harsh, I know, but Hefin does not want Destiny to be driven to the same resentment that he experienced at giving up his life for love. Destiny is very pragmatic about all of this, understands his point, and doesn't even think she would go to Wales if he asked anyway. So the two spend their short time together saying "hello", but also preparing to say "goodbye".

Along the way, Destiny gives Hefin insights into love and blame, to forgive himself for his part in his failed marriage. Hefin pays immense attention to Destiny, sees her in a way no one ever has. He wants her to truly live a life of her own. He realizes that Destiny knows herself far better than he did in the same situation. He wants her with him, exploring the world, living a life of love. The question of whether she accepts is not answered until the very end of the book. These two were ridiculously unselfish, in no way try to manipulate, control, or bully each other. I feel smarter simply having read such great characters.

I honestly don't believe everyone will love this story. It's not exciting and shocking. The tone might be considered quiet, but the emotional intensity and the beauty of the prose had my heart clenching the entire time. Live is already one of my favorite books of 2014. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Laugh, and whatever Mary Ann Rivers writes.

Favorite Quotes:

  They kissed nice and slow, their breath back in their chests and not so expansive. The kissing was only difficult when she couldn't stop smiling. And then he just kissed over her smiles. When he lost his rhythm, grinning, she kissed over his grin. It went on that way for a while. Smiles against kisses. Kisses against grins.

  Destiny reached for his hand and pulled him back over her. It felt so good to feel her skin against his. So he just put his arms around her and she, thankfully, put her arms around him. Then he reached around to put his hand around her nape and hold her even closer. He could feel his heart beating in his chest, slow and glad. "I want you to know that you're wonderful, Hefin Thomas." He held her tighter.

 She closed her eyes. He was just too much with his domes and flowers for her sister and smooth cheeks and hot outfit. She was starting to feel like he had gravity, and being around him was feeling kind of inevitable. It was more surprising than knowing she was falling for him, could love him.

The Burnside Series
Live (Burnside, #1)  Laugh (Burnside, #2)
(covers lead to GoodReads page)

Purchase Links

About the author
Mary Ann Rivers Mary Ann Rivers has been wearing a groove in her library card since she was old enough for story time. She’s been writing almost as long—her first publication credit was in Highlights magazine. She started writing and reading romance in the fifth grade once she stumbled on the rainbow of romance novel book spines in the library’s fiction stacks.

She was an English and music major and went on to earn her MFA in creative writing, publishing poetry in journals, and leading creative writing workshops for at-risk youth. While training for her day job as a Nurse Practitioner, she rediscovered romance on the bedside tables of her favorite patients.

Mary Ann lives in the Midwest with her handsome professor husband and their imaginative school-aged son. She writes smart and emotional contemporary romance, imagining stories featuring the heroes and heroines just ahead of her in the coffee line.

Website  |  Twitter  |  GoodReads



  1. "And he blushes. A lot. Control yourself if you can."
    That's more than enough to make me want to read this book, Andrea. You should have just written that line in your review. It's very convincing. ;)
    This sounds like such a sweet story and I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much that you can't even express your love.
    Lovely review.

  2. Wow I love this review Andrea! It is so clear how much you loved this one, and that means I really need to check out. Great review!

  3. I love how all those authors (McKenna, Florand, Rivers) allow for feelings to be explored. The stories don't run you over...they unfold, naturally.

    Yes, some relationships are explosive and BIG but others just happen with day to day issues and it's so refreshing to read that even if it makes for a quieter story.

  4. Aww, this was such a thoughtful review! I enjoy sweet powerful stories occasionally. I just finished one that made me melt. I think I've had enough wham bam NA drama anyway

  5. oh what a lovely review Andrea I know what it feels sometimes when you find a book you love and to try and put it in words just why. The story sounds beautiful. the writing amazing. I understand what you mean about the little details.

  6. Awww this sounds sweet. A good read. That's what I need. Wish I had time to add it.

  7. Oh, wow! This seems like a perfect read! "He wants her to truly live a life of her own"--this line just sold me on the story. I'm glad that you really connected with both of the characters and enjoyed this book so much. Gorgeous review, you! Btw, a guy who blushes? Um, where can I sign up to get one? ;)

  8. This story sounds breathtaking. I love the way you described it as the author putting so much attention in to the small details that say so much. I love stories with beautiful prose and that make me feel so many emotions. Even if this book was quiet and subdued in tone, it sounds like it was an extremely powerful read. Excellent Review Andrea!

  9. Incredible review, Andrea! You made me feel all your feels, I think. This is exactly the kind of story I love! I adore words and beautiful prose because they convey the most emotion...pack the most punch. I'm definitely, definitely going to pick up this one. Thanks for introducing me to a new author. :)

  10. Wow that was some review! Sometimes it's those, sweet tender moments that make you feel so much more that huge dramatic story lines. You know that you've found a great author when they can make you FEEL the emotions with just one or two beautiful written sentences. I haven't heard of the author, but I certainly have now!

  11. I just read another review for this book that totally convinced me that it's a must read. It sounds absolutely beautiful and so powerful. I want to feel all the FEELS!

  12. Wow Andrea for wanting to just scream I loved this you wrote a beautiful review and have me itching to possess this one. I love powerful reads with attention to detail and this sounds wonderful!!

  13. Fabulous review Andrea. You have me convinced. I want to go and buy it now.

  14. Well this sounds lovely. I'll have to take a look. The cover is really pretty.


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