by Mary McBride

March 2004
ISBN: 0-446-61374-6
Reviewer Graphic Button Warner Books
Mass Market Paperback

Whereas Mary McBride’s previous release My Hero was entertaining and fun, her March 2004 release, Ms. Simon Says is emotional and satisfying.

Ms. Simon is Shelby Simon, a Chicago newspaper columnist, comfortable giving advice to her readers and anyone else willing to listen. She might desire bold colors and crazy patterns, but her life is more a stable beige. That is until she is threatened by letter bombs. To the unwilling rescue comes undercover cop Mick Callahan. With her column on hold and her life in danger, they retreat to her parents’ grand Victorian house by a picturesque lake near a small town somewhere in Michigan. There Shelby learns to take her own advice and Mick finds what he had been missing in his life.

It’s a slow paced novel, but not too slow. It just takes it time. It sneaks up on the reader in its intensity and beauty. I very much like it, as it is not too obvious. No overly tortured alpha hero, no overreacting parents, and not too many quirky small town characters. Ms. Simon Says is a very character driven story, though. Only seldom does the danger intrude. And always there is this quite and spot-on sense of humor.

Ms. McBride’s characters are lovable and unique. So unique that they managed to constantly surprise me with their actions and feelings. Letting me explore their motives and appreciate their hidden depths. There are some very intense and intriguing secondary characters and especially one of them is in danger of taking over the story in the first half of the book. To read his story in Mary McBride’s December 2004 release, Play It Again, Sam is a much anticipated pleasure.

So Ms. Simon Says is not a suspense novel - the villain is very easy to spot! It definitely is a love story and what a love story! The reader can actually see Shelby and Mick fall in love. And it’s not just because their hot for one another. They compliment each other. They trust, protect, care and understand each other. It must be love! However, Ms. Simon Says is not just about their attraction and love for each other, but also how they merge into a complex family union with Shelby’s parents. I found it rather interesting to see the heroine’s parents take an active part in the story. And they are genuinely nice people! Her parents do have some problems. Then again, reading about those problems and how the parents interact with Shelby and Mick, allowed for a very satisfying sense of where Shelby is coming from and what shaped her character.

One more thing I want to write about Mary McBride’s books. Her covers are a little misleading. With those catchy titles and artworks I always mistake them for romantic suspense novels. For stories filled with action and maybe even laugh-out moments. But that is not what her stories are about. Already in My Hero I was fascinated by its tender love story. Now with Ms. Simon Says it’s that, but also the beauty of falling in love and finding and keeping one’s soul mate. So, Mary McBride’s books always turn out to be far more than expected. This reviewer says…I like it!

Reviewed in February 2004 by Kris Alice.

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