Hit Reply
Rocki St. Claire
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Hit Reply

Rocki St. Claire
Downtown Press
352 pages
December 2004
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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Twenty-eight-year-old Boston native Amber Fleece takes a chance and contacts her old high school flame, Gray McDermott, through a classmate reunion website. Successful in her marketing career yet so far unlucky in love, Amber is pleasantly surprised when Gray replies, and the two begin to get to know each another again. Gray doesn't really meet Amber's idea of her "dream man," however. He's a house painter in Texas who lives with his girlfriend and her young son. Nevertheless, their friendship turns steamy through e-mail, instant messages, and phone conversations.

Amber's best friend, Stephanie "Stevie" Hilliard, has thrown in the towel on her high-powered career in Boston and now resides in Orlando with her husband (who travels constantly for his job) and two young children. Stevie feels disconnected from herself and her life, which isn't as fulfilling as she had dreamed. She loves raising her children, but when she's offered a consulting position with Amber's company, she jumps at the chance. There's a small catch--Stevie's boss, Tom Markoff, is a guy she lusts after and almost had a fling with before leaving Boston. Tom's marriage is unhappy as well, and Stevie and Tom begin an e-mail flirtation that just might turn into something more. Is all fair in love and the Internet?

Hit Reply is a cute chick lit novel that moves forward at a rapid pace. The epistolary format makes the book extremely readable and fun for the Internet-savvy reader. The characters are well-defined, and the reader gets a sense of the personality--both strengths and weaknesses--of each one. An all-media format can make it difficult to communicate background and side information without going overboard, but Hit Reply has exactly the right balance to make it work and not venture into unbelievable territory. The ability of the characters to keep some information private from certain people and share it with others reflects the isolation of e-mail and instant messaging versus being there in person. How much can we hide from those we claim to love when our only communication is over the computer?

Besides the four main characters, Hit Reply has some interesting secondary characters who make the plot multi-faceted. Rather than being strictly a romance novel, the underhanded business dealings and maneuvering adds depth to the story. One of the intriguing questions posed by Hit Reply--"is an electronic relationship cheating?" The characters explore their feelings about the answer to this question, which allows the reader to ponder it as well.

Hit Reply is well-worth your time to experience an above-average chick lit read.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Melissa Parcel, 2005

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