I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars.
Everyone tells him he needs to move on, but how can a man function without his heart?
Ten-year-old Caleb Tanner wants nothing to do with Sylvie Cranston, the annoying weird girl who moves next door to him and gets him in trouble for swearing. But at twelve, they become friends when he teaches her how to hook a fishing line and she shows him the value of a selfless act. At fourteen, he falls in love with her.
At sixteen, she dies.
Or so he’s told. But Cal never believes it. Sylvie has become part of his soul. He knows her like the steady beating of his own heart. He’d know if she was dead. Cal looks for her, prays for her and finally he just waits for her.
Nine years later, she walks into the community college English class Cal is teaching. Only this girl claims her name is Sophie Becker and she doesn’t know him. Cal knows better. He’s determined to get the girl he loves back—and protect her from the danger that took her away all those years ago.
I wish more writers would take up this kind of thing because it truly is fascinating to see the story, a romance at that, told in the male point of view. Guys have a very different sense of humor and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how Cal fell in love for Sylvie from his perspective. It is utterly endearing for a girl like me to see how guys would think when it comes to relationships. When I find a boyfriend, I’m definitely going to force him read this one.
Childhood romances also tug on my heartstrings more than the usually love story does. It’s heartwarming to witness a love that grows from a childhood friendship. Sylvie and Cal may not have been all lovey-dovey from the get-go but I think they knew on some level that they were always meant to be together. I loved how protective Cal was of Sylvie but not in that alpha-male kind of way, at least not in the beginning. It was kind of instinctual for him to be the knight in shining armor for Sylvie, to defend her from the bullies that always looked down on Sylvie.
As much as Cal tried to come to her rescue, he couldn’t save Sylvie from everything. When everybody thought she died, Cal didn’t lose faith that she’s alive somewhere and he’s determined to do everything he can to get to where she is.
Every part of the book is loaded with how much Cal longs to have Sylvie in his arms again. The first half of the book is told going back and forth between the past and the present. We see Cal and Sylvie as they were during their childhood in Prairie Marsh, as they began and grew into the friendship, and the love, that would last a lifetime. At the same time, we also see as Cal deals with the hope that blooms in him when a student in the Lit class he teaches at a community college plucks something in his memory about his lost love.
A GIRL BY ANY OTHER NAME packs a very hot, steamy, sexy romance. I never realized how utterly sexier a romance novel can be when told from the guy’s POV. But as much as I loved sexy Cal, his antics tickled my funny bone several times! He is such a guy! I was particularly laughing out loud at the scene in the grocery when they were checking out the condoms. Oh, and the part when he called out his students after lying to him about missing an exam. I would’ve loved to be in that Lit class myself. M.K. Schiller gave us an alpha hero who is witty, funny, and downright delectable. But Cal also has this vulnerability about him, especially when it comes to Sylvie that made me want to just engulf him in a bear hug.
The plot twists were very strategically placed throughout the story, which gave it more impact. Although there was a bit of a mystery involved, especially regarding the circumstances Sylvie’s “death”, I was kind of letdown that it wasn’t something more… complicated. I already kind of guessed what happened to Sylvie but the whole tell-all didn’t exactly came as a surprise.
So yeah, A GIRL BY ANY OTHER NAME turned out to be a very worthwhile read with a HEA included! It is a standalone and tells a full story so there are no cliffhangers. I think readers of the NA Contemporary genre should definitely try this one!