Prior to the holidays I read the frustratingly short e-book by my DearHeart Friend, Crystal Inman, Virtually Yours. And I admit upfront that I was nervous to do so. I already liked this woman for her sense of humour, all round sweetness (No, really Chrys!) and she has a fun blog where I read about her antics with her kids, some trepidations with her ex and the tragedy of losing her house and much loved goofy dog. It's the best part about a blog that you get to know the inner thoughts of people, we know them without ever meeting them. So I already knew I liked Chrys but, what if I didn't like her writing?
Well, lucky for me I didn't need to worry because I loved the story. I'll cheat and steal Chrys' blurb:
"Sarah Sharpe leads a normal life. When she volunteers for a study at the local college, all that changes. She is given special glasses which enable her to enter the scene of her choice in a Virtual World.
Exploring the Virtual World is great. But there’s a catch. A striking, male catch. Blake Canfield. He assures Sarah he’s self-aware and explains he will be her guide.
Sarah is unsure at first, but she quickly grows to enjoy his company. Too much. She soon finds herself falling for essentially a figment of her imagination. How perfect can one relationship be? No strings. Low-maintenance.
But it’s not perfect. It’s the hardest relationship Sarah’s ever been in. Because when she turns the glasses back into the college in three months, Blake will be gone. Forever. And so will Sarah’s heart."
Now, I'll admit when I read that my bullshit meter began to hum, because I had flash images of those early days of virtual reality where folks sat in a big chair tied by wires hand and head forced to watch to lame skiing sequences, but none of that here and damn if she didn't make it work. In this world, it's just a pair of sunglasses and ZAP, you're on the beach in the middle of a luau. Hooray! Smells, sight touches... all the senses really are catered to and never in an over the top purple prose kind of way - which could have been so easy to do but Chrys gets the balance spot on. She carries the suspension of disbelief perfectly. In some ways it reminds me of Internet Love Addiction and the frustrations Sarah goes through trying to appeal to her Devil and Angel on her shoulder about how far she should let herself go with this Virtual character and the denial/repression of her emotional responses and rationalizations are all very interesting to read.
I really liked the characters. Sarah Sharpe is the kind of person I'd want to be friends with; loving, devoted, humble and funny. Verging on quirky (Although the diet cola for breakfast thing made my teeth hurt). The hero, our virtual man, is pretty good too - although he confused the hell out of me. He almost seems to be trying to get Sarah to have sex with him on a bet, although that's never alluded to, and I just felt his "need" for her a bit, well...needy. And once I looked back on the story and picked it apart technically (What?! We all do it...), he was supposed to annoy me because he fucking vexes Sarah to no end. There's a set up in there, and I fell for it. Well Done Chrys, you beat me, Ms. Smarty-Pants MacPlotfinder. *Bow* ...although not entirely, I kind of knew I just went the wrong direction and thought it was the brother...
My only complaint is the ending is too abrupt, and I can't even go into it without killing the ending but one minute Sarah is a pillar of fiery pissed off vixen (rightly so), humiliated, embarrassed (I know they're kind of the same word, but shup and let me get on with it) and then one Heavenly dose of French Toast and all is forgiven?? That must be one damn fine plate of French toast - like on sourdough bread with proper Canadian maple syrup and smoked bacon and laced with tranqs. I wanted to see Sarah's temper slow and then peter out with loving forgiveness, after a proper good argument not just satisfied cravings for an eggy bread breakfast and sugar rush of love - Which I can completely understand as French toast is my favourite breakfast too, but no...the story needed a couple more chapters - heck even one would do - And since Blake is "self-aware" he needs to explain and assert himself a bit more, make more of a show that he's sorry. Then he must prove himself until he bleeds. Ok maybe not bleed, ache a bit at the very least. No humble, big eyed, pleading, groveling. No man should gain a bride by plucking her pity strings At one point I think I recreated the scene with DeForrest Kelly saying "Dammit Sarah, I'm a Man, not a machine!" but It was purely for my own
So, not only did I love Virtually Yours and was left wanting more (Fifty pages! That's all I'm asking. A weekend for you, Chrys.) but I may have to give more e-books a try and I've been a bit dubious in the past having only had one good example from Kate Rothwell (Not to say only one was good, but that I've only read one of hers. I'm sure they're all excellent!). I've been proven something of a e-book snob (coward) and have resolved to change my ways. But I still attest that reading a book from the PC screen is painful.
Now go buy Chrys's books.