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.
She sat down on her swing again. “I think you’re the smartest boy I know.”
She blinked her eyes at my goofy grin.
“I’m the smartest person you know.”
“That can’t be, because I’m smarter than you,” she replied, jutting her chin
“You’re a smartass. There’s a difference.” I returned to the passage I was
reading, doing my best to ignore her.
“Why don’t you want people to know you like to read?”
“I don’t want to talk about it, Sylvie. You’re annoying me.”
“Will you read one to me?”
“We’re supposed to be paying attention to the sermon. The only reason my
momma lets me sit out here with you is because she thinks we listen to it.”
“You’re not listening.” She had me there. “Just read me one. Your favourite
I sighed. “Fine.”
I flipped to my favourite poem and quietly read The Raven to her I flipped
to my favourite poem and quietly read The Raven to her. When I looked up,
she was staring at me with wide eyes and a wistful smile. Even my ignorant
eleven-year-old self could appreciate that smile.
“It’s so pretty. I wonder what it means.”
“I know what it means. He thought he heard the ghost of some girl named
Lenore who he used to know, but it was just some stupid bird screaming
that he’d never see her again.”
“That sounds sad and romantic.”
“Romantic? He was crazy,” I said, twirling my finger next to my head.
“I think it is. He had to love her very much if he kept searching for her.”
“Maybe he just went batshit.”
“Cal, don’t swear. We’re in church,” she scolded, wagging her finger at me.
“It’s okay. We’re outside of it,” I said, gesturing to the open space between
us and the building.
“God can hear everything.”
I chuckled. “Yeah, but my momma can’t.” She punched me in the arm. “Did
you just punch me or was it the wind? ’Cause I can’t tell.”
“Very funny.” She looked off into the woods, and I wondered if she was
going to bolt early. “I think there might be a raven calling to me too. Do you
think I’m crazy?”
“Heck yeah,” I replied, impressed with myself for not saying ‘hell’. I felt
lousy, though, when she looked at me with those big chocolate-coloured
eyes full of sorrow. I wanted to make her feel better. I wanted her to smile
again. I knocked my knee into hers. “Girl, you’re such a weirdo,” I said,
finding the most poetic words my childish mind could muster.
She laughed in that cynical way of hers. “Yeah, you’re right. Bye.” She took
off, sprinting into the woods.
“Hey, Sylvie,” I called after her before she blended into the landscape. She
stopped and turned, almost out of earshot. “Let’s go fishing tomorrow after
“I knew you’d take me,” she yelled back, giving me a real smile.
She cupped her hand over her mouth. “Did you just quote Mr Darcy?”
“I did. You see I can appreciate art, but I prefer the written word to
the visual experience. So please allow me to paint a picture for you.” I
cleared my throat. “‘I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of
understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little
yielding—certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget
the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against
myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them.
My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion, once lost, is
lost forever.’” I finished the Darcy monologue with another bow.
“Holy hell, that was hot.”
I stood, grinning at her, backing her farther against the wall, a hand on
either side of her head, in our own little world. “That turned you on, my
love? Let me assure you, it’s just the tip of my knowledge base. Would you
prefer poetry? Maybe Keats, Wordsworth or Blake? How about the female
perspective? Emily Dickinson, perhaps? I know them all. I can sonnet you
all night. And yes, I use the term as a verb because the way I do it is an
She waved her hand in front of her face, fanning herself. “All night?” she
asked, arching her brow, a sexy smile curling her lips.
“I have plenty of material. I hold a Master’s in literature, and words are my
medium of choice.”
“I think you may have just mastered me, sir.”
I jerked my head towards the exit. “Shall we take our leave?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
About MK Schiller . . .
I am a hopeless romantic in a hopelessly pragmatic world. I have a full
time life and two busy teenagers, but by night, I sit by the warm glow of
my computer monitor, and attempt to conjure up passionate heartwarming
stories with plenty of humor.
I started imagining stories in my head at a very young age. In fact, I got so
good at it that my best friend asked me to make up stories featuring her as
the heroine and the boy she currently liked as the hero. We'd spend hours
on the phone while I came up with a series of unrealistic, yet tender events
led the object of her desire to finally profess his love. You've heard of fan
fiction... this was friend fiction.
Even with that, it took many years to realize I could produce an actual full
length book that readers would enjoy. I try to make my stories humorous,
realistic, with characters who are flawed but redeeming. I hope you enjoy
my stories and never stop searching for your happily ever after.
Ramblings . . .
How lucky are we that we received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
If this is how 2014 is kicking off with books then it’s going to be a good year for us readers!
A.mazing! This book literally blew my mind! I’m gonna try to keep it vague because I don’t want to spoil the book for you, it’s really one that you HAVE to read, not only because it’s fan-bloody-tastic but because it cannot be described in words. It’s just one of those books that you need to experience for yourself.
A Girl By Any Other Name is a story about true love and how it prevails against all else. It stands the test of time and a thousand obstacles. This story has originality and twists and turns that pounce from nowhere. I was totally blindsided at one point.
I took an instant liking to the characters. This was easy because the story begins in the past where our main characters meet as children. An unexpected friendship forms between Caleb and Sylvie and it’s beautiful to read. This friendship develops and blossoms into an untold love as the years pass by.
Sylvie is troubled from a young age despite never revealing herself to anyone except Cal and even then she never opens herself completely. Despite suffering a life-time worth of pain and suffering within a short period of time, Sylvie is a free-spirited, kind-hearted character. She is strong and courageous and selfless. She places everyone before herself despite fully deserving the right to wallow, she never does, not once.
Then there is Cal, who is my new book boyfriend, oh yes hello ladies. Future Cal is an English tutor. Using literature as his escape and also as his tool in finding Sylvie, who has long since vanished. He really has the whole package. Hot and smart. Quoting classic literature one minute (seriously swoony) then whispering dirty nothings and taking full control in the bedroom. I love them both and you will be rooting for them!
The story jumps between the past, which is actually a story within the story written by Cal, and the present day where Cal is searching for his ‘Lenore’. I love how the story is told and it flows perfectly.
My heart was broken for Sylvie, then it broke for Cal. I was pained reading this. It really is torturous for a while but hang in there because the ending is so worth it.
Absolutely beautiful. Shocking. Freaking impossible to put down. My eyes were burning because I just couldn’t put it down. I had to keep reading until I had finished.
A real stand up – original story. Very clever Mk Schiller. My new author crush!