A long time ago Mallory Evans and John Lake were friends. Their friendship was a secret to most everyone. At night they would keep each other company in the dark talking through Mallory's window, but during the day at school they would walk past each other without acknowledgment in the halls. Their secret friendship came to a dramatic end when it was discovered by Mallory's vicious and abusive step-father. Mallory moved away and became a celebrated writer & John abandoned his parents' dream of a classical music career for alternative rock success. More than a decade has passed and their friendship is not a secret to anyone anymore because it was the subject of Mallory's second and highly regarded memoir.
This novella follows John and Mallory as they reconnect after years of estrangement. The story alternates between Mallory's memoir of their past friendship and their current day conversations and encounters where they finally consummate their once unspoken romance. The story is bittersweet and tentative. For love to bloom, John has to deal with his feelings of failure and guilt and Mallory has to risk accepting his desire.
I didn't find their current day romance convincingly urgent. It felt like they were working out their past feelings for each other as they have yet to get to know each other enough in the current day to establish a credible HEA. Their love could grow and rekindle but it did not feel sure or certain. They might have been unknowingly waiting for each other and for this moment, but to me it was only a start.
It was pleasant to re-enter Rivers' Lakefield again and see familiar faces and locations again but I wish we had more time to spend with Mallory and John and see their current day relationship develop.
P.S. Olivia Dade in a comment below reminded me of something I probably should have addressed in my review. Brain Mill Press made a big deal about doing a special photo-shoot to make sure their cover model accurately represented their vision for Mallory as plus-size woman. I thought Rivers did a wonderful job depicting and presenting a plus-sized heroine without making the story about her weight or body shape. John is attracted to Mallory and finds her plus-sized body pretty and beautiful. He loves her breasts, shape and softness. I thought it was erotic without becoming fetishistic. Mallory loves who she is and any self-consciousness she feels is just a natural part of becoming involved with someone she used to have a huge crush on.
I received a review copy of My Only Sunshine from Brain Mill Press.