Robin Rotham's Reviews > By the Book

By the Book by Scarlett Parrish
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Sep 21, 11


Every once in a while I read a book that just won't let go of me, that makes me say "God, I wish I could write like that!" By the Book is just such a book. I don't want to say too much about the story for fear of ruining the emotional suspense, but I will say that a week after I read it, I was still thinking about the characters, wondering how they were all doing and wishing I could go have coffee with them. (Actually, what I'd really like is to crawl into bed between Daniel and Reece. They just seem like the kind of guys I could find the courage to do that with, you know?)

The writing was absolutely lovely. The conflict unfolded so naturally, and the action and dialogue were so true to the characters that, although I was dying to know how it all turned out, I couldn't make myself skip a single word. (And that's saying something because I'm a champion skimmer.)

The story is written in first person, which I often don't care for, but I think it was perfect for this book. I savored every moment of being in Reece's head, experiencing that first forget-everything-you-ever-believed-about-yourself attraction to someone of the same sex. The very first time he and Daniel made eye contact, Reece felt like "...something had done a Ctrl+Alt+Del on my brain," an analogy that made me laugh out loud because I could so totally relate. And it was very representative of the main conflict--that one moment out of time initiated an irreversible cascade of events and forced Reece into the process of resetting his entire world view. The next time I need an example of an inciting incident, this is the one I'll use because, as subtle as it is, it clearly alters the course of all their lives.

Daniel (*fainting sigh over Daniel* I think only Scarlett Parrish could make me believe guyliner is the most intriguing thing ever) was an enigma to Reece throughout most of the book, and yet much of that was a result of Reece's own insecurity and inability to let go of his old expectations. Even though Reece was telling the story, it was like I could see in his words what he couldn't--the vulnerability hiding behind Daniel's swaggering veneer. And I wanted to beat Georgia over the head with my laptop for putting Reece through what she did--and yet dammit, she was right. How could it all ever work out?!

The conflict was resolved more outside the bedroom than in it, but that didn't keep me from being emotionally invested in the love scenes, which were hot and yet oddly tasteful. Maybe that's because of the sensitive first person POV. Or maybe it's because Ms. Parrish writes with a British accent. *grin* Whatever the case, no matter how dirty the characters liked to talk, the sex never came across as crude, something I appreciated very much.

So if you enjoy character-driven romance, seemingly insurmountable conflict that's not all black-and-white, sexy but very human characters, and wonderfully drawn emotional journeys, this might be just the book for you.
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