The Story Guy - Mary Ann Rivers
Well, here I am on my lonely island of unpopular opinion yet again. It seems everyone adores this novella and I was left unfulfilled and somewhat irritated by the experience.I loved the premise of the story. It was unique, certainly nothing I've ever read before. The fact this story starts with nothing but kissing and not straight to sex with a stranger excited me to no end. I knew when I heard that was the case that I had to read this. Unfortunately, I think that created an expectation for the story in my mind that wasn't met. The story was not as sweetly innocent as I had hoped it would be. It sort of skipped over the build up that could have been amazing between the two of them and almost straight to Carrie wanting to "fuck" (her words) Brian and trying to force a situation that could have evolved naturally and been more satisfying. I really think this needed to be a full length novel so that it might have realized that potential.I really hope this trend of first person adult books, especially romance, dies a swift death. And soon. Especially first person present, which is just the worst narrative form. It's extremely limiting and I don't buy into the fallacy that the reader gets a more intimate view of the character. I don't think we gain anything being in a character's head. In fact, I end up more annoyed when something incongruous runs through the character's mind. The writing in this novella could be overwrought at times where it attempted to be lyrical and insightful but only fell flat for me. Here we were trapped inside Carrie's mind and I found myself asking, "Who thinks like this?" several times. There were a few instances where she or other characters attempted profundity but it just didn't make a lot of sense to me. Even the explanation of what a "story guy" is was toeing the line of ridiculous.Then there are first person sex scenes, which I generally find awkward. I just don't want to be in someone's head for that. Especially with the use of some euphemisms. Those of you who have been reading my reviews know the one about which I'm going to complain. Yep, the dreaded "sex" as a euphemism. Feel free to weigh in here but has anyone ever actually referred to their vagina as "my sex"? Ever? It's bad enough reading that in third person but when it's the character talking it's even worse. Particularly when she is saying "clit" and "cock" all around that other term. Why can't she use a word people actually say? I know people think "vagina" sounds too clinical, but she used "penis" almost as much as "cock", if not more. Then there was a paragraph that not only used that term but where she also said "cum". It was like the paragraph from hell. Really, the sex scene in this book was needlessly explicit. It tempered the potential sweetness of the story. Instead of being loving and romantic, it kind of long-jumped into somewhat brash erotica. And, of course, the more explicit the more potential there is for cringe inducing word use that ruins the scene for some people. It was also way too long for a novella. I don't know how long it actually was but it felt like it went on and on. I remember saying, "Why is this sex scene 32 pages long in a hundred-something page novella?" That was obviously hyperbolic but exactly what I was thinking.I'm not sure how I feel about Carrie. She wasn't awful, I got her, but she was a fairly flat character. She had very little conflict. I think she was driven by loneliness, which is something with which I can easily relate, but I still didn't feel much for her. The thing that really irritated me about her was the fact that she pushed Brian for what she wanted between them. He was very clear from the beginning about what the relationship was and where it was going yet Carrie kept pushing then acted like he owed her something and was refusing to give it to her. She at least had some self awareness and referred to her behavior with him as bullying. But why, recognizing that, did she continue to push instead of understanding that he was trying his damnedest to move past his limitations for her? To try and give the connection and chemistry they had together a chance. It was obvious he was suffering some secret pain. Her selfishness only served to make her unsympathetic. She had an attitude like he was leading her on when in reality he was explicitly clear with her from the start. I think eventually she was going to have to push some because he was stalled in his life and couldn't see the potential for change, but it could have waited beyond a whole two Wednesdays. That was too fast for her to think that he should give her all of himself because of some great kissing. This issue might have been created, in part, by keeping this to novella length instead of a full novel.The worst part of this being in first person is not getting any of the story from Brian's perspective. He was very sweet and so tortured. His conflict was really interesting and deserved to be explored. Leaving it to fester in the periphery did a disservice to the character and the reader. I truly wanted him to have his say. Brian had lived his life a certain way for a long time for a very good reason and never thought he could have more, didn't really believe he deserved more. He had to work through the issues and repercussions of changing his version of normal. Traveling with him through that journey would have been far more interesting to me than Carrie's one dimensional whining. Reading this story from both of their perspectives would have made this a much more enjoyable and emotional read for me.2.5 stars. I was looking for a sweet, romantic story and I didn't feel like I really got that but for some parts where the potential shone through. I am tempted to round my rating down, but rounded up for the great premise and for Brian even though he didn't get his say. Though don't be surprised if I do change it. I'm still not sold on leaving three stars up there. Yes, I changed it. I was bothered by giving it three stars and usually my mind comes up with reasons why I should leave it but I could only think of reasons why I should round down, that's when I know I should go ahead and do so.I was provided an ARC of this book through NetGalley.*I lost the entire first draft of this review after the first two paragraphs, so this is not as complete or as good as it was initially. I hate everything.