Tuesday, October 24, 2017

REVIEW: How to Stay (A Hollywood Lights Novella) / Katie Rose Guest Pryal

TITLE: How to Stay (A Hollywood Lights Novella)
AUTHOR: Katie Rose Guest Pryal
PUBLISHER: Blue Crow Books


Romance - Contemporary


Miranda George is legal-industry royalty: the daughter of two high-flying lawyers with their own firm who’s now got a cushy paralegal job with them right out of college. She has zero patience for smarmy junior lawyers. You know the type—fresh out of law school, a little too good-looking, and definitely too confident. Arrogant, narcissistic little douchebags. So when she meets her parents’ new hire, Matthias Pino—a guy who seems to fit right into the mold—she dismisses him right away. Determined to prove that he’s more than a stereotype, Matthias takes Miranda on an unconventional date to a dog rescue—and wins her over. But though the two crackle with immediate chemistry, life’s complications get in the way. Miranda’s picture-perfect family is harboring a devastating secret, and she fears that letting Matthias into her life will reveal it and hurt the people she loves most. Matthias, meanwhile, has an unexpected background that shatters Miranda’s initial assumptions about him.

Equal parts passionate romance and heart-wrenching family drama, Katie Rose Guest Pryal’s standalone novella, How to Stay (part of the Hollywood Lights world but completely self-contained), is a tightly written and emotionally layered story that touches on several complex topics, including mental health and the paradoxes of the American justice system. I was surprised by just how much richness could be packed into this little book, which is fast paced (I read most of it in a day) without being rushed. Both Miranda and Matthias are well-drawn, complex characters who really come to life on the page, and their interactions feel completely organic. I loved how Miranda could be both the take-charge type on the outside and yet still vulnerable in ways she’s loathe to admit. And as a romantic lead, Matthias is totally charming. It’s so easy to root for these two, even as life’s complications keep trying to get in the way. It all leads up to a wholly satisfying ending, and I’d recommend this book for anyone who’s looking for an intelligent romance that’s as much about the people involved as the passion.


Katie is a novelist, freelance journalist, and erstwhile law professor in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the author of the Hollywood Lights Series, which includes ENTANGLEMENT, LOVE AND ENTROPY, CHASING CHAOS, and HOW TO STAY all from BLUE CROW BOOKS. With Raven Books, she is the author of LIFE OF THE MIND INTERRUPTED: Essays on Mental Health and Disability in Higher Education (2017).

As a journalist, Katie contributes to QUARTZ, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, THE (late, lamented) TOAST, DAME MAGAZINE and other national venues. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, where she attended on a fellowship. Katie has published many books on writing, including HOW WRITING WORKS with Oxford University Press. A professor of writing for more than a decade, she now teaches creative writing through Duke University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and works as a writing coach and developmental editor when she’s not writing her next book.

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