I’ve fallen in love with Cameron, Riley and their story, The Truth About Riley. It is one of my favorite, favorite favorites.The plot is genius and both characters so sweet and lovable.
Riley is a somewhat reclusive writer-translator who hides a partially fire-ravaged face. His three years of self-imposed isolation have finally crushed him with longing to be held and loved. When he finds the phone sex add on the floor of his favorite coffee shop, it only takes three days for him to give in to the desire to share a moment of intimacy with another soul.
Cameron, the ad exec whose ex plays a malicious phone prank by listing his cell number as a sex line, is confused and frustrated by the deluge of calls he receives.When the end of Cameron’s tolerance, meets Riley’s hard-won vulnerability, it sets something larger in motion …at least after the fireworks of that first phone call settle down.
After the usual confusion that ensues with these calls, Cameron lashes out at Riley.
“Look, buster, that ad is not for a phone sex service; it’s my vindictive asshole of an ex-boyfriend’s death warrant. If you want to get your rocks off, you desperate, horny freak, go find yourself a fucking rentboy, but don’t call this number again.”
The dial tone cut across any apology Riley might have made, and he stared at the phone in disbelief. How rude! So maybe that was a fairly sucky situation, but was it really so hard just to say “sorry, wrong number”? Without stopping to think it through, he hit redial, sitting bolt upright and dragging the comforter over himself.
“Look, I told you –” the voice answered, sounding as pissed as Riley felt, and Riley let him have it.
“No, you look, you judgmental bastard! Where the hell do you get off yelling at people and calling them freaks for one tiny, innocent mistake? It’s not my fault you have issues with your ex –“
“Innocent? Yeah, I like that, when you’re calling a phone sex line –“
“Shut up! Shut the fuck up! You know nothing about me! You have no fucking idea why I’m calling a phone sex line; if you’re not the one, the least you can do is politely tell me I have the wrong number.”
“You think I haven’t been doing that? How about I advertise your cell phone number as a sex line? Call me back when you’ve fielded thirty-nine disturbing phone calls from horny assholes insisting they have the right number and begging for all sorts of fucked up shit and tell me you’d be polite to lucky number forty!”
“Believe me, if I had forty people queuing up to have sex with me, I’d be sending ‘lucky number forty’ a fucking bouquet!” Riley shot back honestly with a stab of pain.
“Well good for you, slut! They don’t want –“
“Don’t you call me a slut, you fucking uptight prick! You know nothing about me!”
“So enlighten me, why don’t you? Tell me what’s so magical and special about phone sex that you think you need to be treated like royalty!”
“Fuck royalty; I’d settle for human!” Riley was vaguely aware that his voice was shaking. “Look, Cameron or whatever your name is, whatever issues you have with your ex, you’ve got it easy, believe me. Just change your number, write him an apology or get a restraining order, and just chill the fuck out, okay?” (location 220-248/5243 Kindle)
The greatest conflict is Riley’s fear of rejection. There is a scene where a child cries in the grocery store and Riley is sure it is because of him. He has an all-encompassing awareness of his appearance, amplified by the reactions of former friends and people in general. It is so ingrained that the more he cares for Cameron, the greater is his fear of losing him. The slow dance from phone calls to embraces is excruciating and sweet, filled with tenderness and fear, but sprinkled with inventive and unexpected interactions. When at last, the two are joined, it is with a compromise – and then it’s not, it becomes happily ever after.