By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
After reading my review of Ruthie Knox's Big Boy (Strangers on a Train), Cat's Books predicted I would like this, too. I definitely see why she recommended this: the two stories have very much the same sort of vibe. Both are novellas where the protagonists meet weekly for a tryst (hawt sex with crazy roleplaying in Knox's version; "kissing only" here, though it's pretty steamy kissing), but are prevented from having a deeper relationship by tragic circumstances in the hero's life (I can't say more without spoiling).
I very much enjoyed The Story Guy, and I will definitely read more by Mary Ann Rivers, but it's unfortunate for Rivers that I read Knox's story first. Knox's story is easily the best novella I've ever read. In my opinion, it is sixty-odd pages of utter and complete perfection. It is short, but so evocatively rendered that the reader understands and empathizes with the characters and their motivations as well or better than one would after reading a full-length novel. Every scene, every paragraph, is integral to the story: there is nothing extraneous or wasted.
By contrast, Rivers' story is very, very good, but it isn't as sharply perfect as Knox's. The characters, Carrie and Brian, have chemistry, but they don't quite burn up the page. They were both likeable enough, but they weren't quite as fully rendered, as three dimensional, as Knox's Mandy and Tyler.
Actually, now that I think of it, the difference between these two novellas is not unlike the difference between kissing and sex (the main plot difference between the two stories). Kissing is marvelous. It's sexy and fun and if it's all you've ever done, it seems perfect. Until you have screaming-hawt Ruthie Knox-inspired role-playing sex on a train, and then you find out what you've been missing.
So, I recommend this story highly, but if you can, read it before you read Big Boy. That way, The Story Guy will stand on its own merits (at least until you read Big Boy) and will not suffer by the unfair comparison of trying to measure up to perfection.