Amber and Stephanie's love lives are revealed in this lively novel
made up entirely of emails and instant messages. Amber's old flame,
Gray, reappears in her life (mostly via email and IMs) after she
finds him on ClassReunion.com. The trouble is that Gray --- aside
from never using capital letters in his messages --- has a
"complicated" relationship with his female roommate and her son. Is
the fact that Gray paints garages for a living yet lives to write
country music an endearing quality, or a sign of still more
trouble? Then ambitious, handsome, wealthy Chet enters Amber's
life, although his attempts at humor fall flat. Will a
distinguished bird in the hand win out over the far distant
presence of the musical garage painter? Mysteriously, Gray revs
Amber's hormones into a tumult online while Chet can't quite manage
it in person.
Amber has a cold that drags on and on. In her messages to Stevie
(Stephanie), she mentions doctors' visits, which leaves her friend
(and the reader) to worry about Amber's health. When Amber gets her
diagnosis, she suspects that she should table romance for another
time. But Gray can't seem to stop emailing, IMing, and calling
Amber. What's more, he composes irresistible love songs for her.
Further complications ensue when Gray's roommate enters a crisis
situation, while her young son depends on Gray for stability. How
can Gray ever leave the little boy he adores?
Meanwhile, Stephanie struggles with her marriage. When her husband
informs her that she's not “interesting,” she takes up
an old love interest's offer of a consultant job working from home
via her computer. She juggles her children and the work while being
e-wooed by the magnetic charms of also-married Tom's steamy
messages. Is her husband cheating, or is he simply a traveling
workaholic? Is Stephanie herself actually being unfaithful via the
computer? Will Stephanie choose the alluring man she experiences
only long distance, or will she try to repair the marriage and
family in which she has invested so many years?
The story opens and you think this is a superficial read, but then
it goes deep. We get so much more here than standard love stories.
Amber and Stephanie's strong friendship is tangible. We learn of
Amber's continuing sorrow for her long-dead mother, even as her
father finds a new love. Amber's co-worker and friend Julie finds
her way back into the workforce and tentatively enters a
relationship. Gray reveals his heartbreaking past. Despite the
message format, each character has a unique voice and seems real,
experiencing hard choices, regrets, joy, fear, lust, love,
jealousy, and agony. The reader cares about all of them (so much so
that I actually had tears in my eyes a few times).
HIT REPLY is a great, gripping read!
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (Terryms2001@yahoo.com) on January 22, 2011