Book Review: Mary Ann Rivers’ Laugh

Posted May 4, 2014 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Mary Ann Rivers’ Laugh


on May 6, 2014 and has 281 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Second in the Burnside romance series set in Lakefield, Ohio. The couple focus is on Nina Paz and Sam Burnside.

I received this ARC from the publisher.

My Take

It’s love, love, love all the way in Laugh, only it’s not your typical romance. It’s a fearless, well-meaning, and graceless hero — a man suffering from ADHD, no less. Rivers did a fabulous job of taking me behind-the-scenes as it were of what it’s like to be this person, and how he copes with it as well as the family and friends who have to cope with him. It makes it much easier to understand both sides of this issue…and be incredibly grateful I haven’t had to deal with this in real life. Still, with knowledge comes understanding and consideration, a communication which can only produce patience and in turn reduce stress — for all parties.

I enjoyed the emphasis on urban farming with its insight into what it takes to be a farmer let alone one in the city. Nina impresses the hell out of me with all the community involvement in which she engages besides the work she puts into her farm and café, anything to ignore and avoid the grief she still feels over her husband’s death. Instead she has a family she’s chosen.

That first encounter is sooo unpromising, so bad that one isn’t sure if the focus is Nina and Sam, which makes it great fun to watch this relationship develop. Nina hides from her past by diving in to all this commitment but she has been willing to nurture same-sex relationships while Sam is so focused on keeping his family together and safe and happy that he pushes them away.

Which makes it all the more fun to watch Nina’s struggle against her attraction to Sam, LOL. Sam isn’t struggling at all. He’s right out there with his appreciation and, ahem, thrusting.

Seems Sam has a fabulous bedside manner. Just don’t allow him away from human interaction, lol. He’s an interesting contradiction between too focused on caring for everyone else and his sense of humor. His “observations” on Nina’s breasts, from a purely clinical standpoint of course, cracked me up. He’s a good guy, but too intense. He needs to learn how to step back, let go.

There’s a bit in here about how Sam’s parents coped with his ADHD. His mother had it herself and passed on her coping mechanisms and supported his taking the Ritalin. Her death found his dad totally against the Ritalin with disastrous results. Makes that analysis at the end a bit hard for Sam to take, poor baby.

Mike is too right! Doctors don’t respect nurses by addressing them as Nurse Mike or whoever, so why should nurses have to append Doctor to their name?

I’m confused. Nina wants only right now or she wants a permanent now that has no future???

You know, I just love how Rivers explains things…she has a bit in here on cancer treatment, likening it to a military strategy that just makes sense to me. Then there’s that lovely tension between Nina and Sam and his family that Rivers exploits so well. That moment when Nina finally gets Sam. That disastrous yet fabulous date.

I love this…
“…it doesn’t matter how it starts, just so long as it doesn’t end.”

The only thing in here that bugs me is Daniel going on and on and on and on about God and love was annoying. What was the point with that?

Sam tries so hard and Nina appreciates him so much. He loves her so much he wishes he could give her Russ and Seattle. Just another one of the scenes which makes me cry with how sweet this is. I want to go back and read the first in the series. I’ll be keeping an eye open for the third in this series.

The Story

It’s Lacey’s idea, getting Sam out from underfoot by sending him to help Nina, for while Sam’s great with the patients, he’s not so great with behind-the-scenes paperwork. So getting his hands on Nina’s lush fields turns into great therapy for a man who needs to help.

The Characters

The widowed Nina Paz is working off her grief by farming far from home. Russ had been her friend from childhood and became the man she thought of as her soulmate until he died by being in the wrong place. Juana Marie is her mom, and she and Nina’s dad work a farming operation in Seattle in which they have a small ownership. Mom also runs a café and catering service which she runs with Russ’ mom. Rachel Delassixe is the chef friend who creates scrumptious meals with Nina’s produce for their café. Tay is both friend and farm manager. And it really makes me appreciate how food finally winds up on the store shelf! She has an on-again/off-again relationship with Adam. Tay and Adam play in a jam band for fun.

Dr. Sam Burnside is loyal to family and friends…and screwing it up. Bluntly, he’s a mother hen! PJ is another brother and estranged from Sam; he plays cello with the symphony. He’s also still in love with his childhood babysitter…sigh… Sarah is a middle sister who works at a local letterpress. While she understood Sam’s grief about their mother’s death, even she can’t survive Sam’s need to obsess. A disastrous accident finds her living at Betty’s. Des is Sam’s youngest sister who has “escaped” with her boyfriend, Hefin, to Europe. Paddy and Marie Burnside were their parents.

Mike Masserson, a nurse and Sam’s best friend, is married to DeeDee, and they have a son, Mikey.

Lacey Radcliffe is Sam’s partner in this planned neighborhood clinic. She’s his perfect complement with her administrative and advanced practice nurse experience plus they’ve been friends since childhood. Nathan is the son she had when she became pregnant by Mark Lockwood in college.

Betty Lynch was the Burnside mom’s best friend; she’s married to a former priest, Daniel. Mrs. Washington is an asthmatic patient who is part of the neighborhood for whom Sam and Lacey intend to care. Rae is Mrs. Washington’s grandniece. Dr. Marty Takaishi is the family doctor who enticed Sam into choosing family medicine. It’s a sweet little insert and not at all an info dump! I’ve learned to appreciate these when they’re well done! Colby, Madeline, Susan, Steven, and Rose are Nina’s farmhands.

The Cover and Title

I do like the cover with its country lane background and Sam laughing, one elbow resting on top of the car.

The title is what Nina values about Sam, that he can make her Laugh “just where she was”.