Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz is an erotic-comedy novella loosely based off of Much Ado About Nothing. I really enjoyed it for what it was, short and sweet with a little bite. It's the literary equivalent of affogato. As much as I enjoyed it, I didn't quite buy the Much Ado About Nothing theme.
The book opens with Beatriz, a part-time sex blogger, on her way to her sister Claudia's wedding. Problem: Beatriz owes her editor a thousand word review of a sex position manual and she's going stag to the wedding. You can't review a book on positions intended for two when you're flying solo.
Other problem: Beatriz's college crush, Ben, is also at the wedding. Beatriz once propositioned Ben by surprising him while wearing nothing but a robe. Then she dropped the robe. When Ben turned her down? Such humiliation. Very embarrassment. Anyway, we find out that Ben had his reasons for turning Beatriz down (not very good ones) and he's pined for her for all these years. His last girlfriend actually broke up with him when she caught him pleasuring himself to Bea's blog. He's more or less obsessed with her.
So Ben and Beatriz let bygones be bygones and agree to a weekend of just sex for the sake of the review. Which works in romance novels never.
Of course they start to have feelings for each other, and then conflict arises, and you get the picture. Since this is a novella, the conflict was pretty light and because it's an erotic novella, it involves butt fucking. It reminded me a little of the sort of misunderstanding you'd get on an episode of Friends, if Friends discussed butt fucking, which it did not.
I found the book to be genuinely humorous and also quite sexy. The descriptions of the positions listed in Bea's manual were detailed enough that you could file them away for reference later. Yay for sneaky educational material!
What I didn't really agree with were the Much Ado About Nothing references. I love Much Ado and am not so secretly in love with Benedick. I also have a major lady crush on Emma Thompson and have watched the Kenneth Branagh version of the play like a million times, despite the fact that it involves Kenneth Branagh. If there is a form of polyamory that lets me be married to my husband and Emma Thompson, I am so signing up for that shit.
Anyway, Ben and Bea were missing the biting, slicing, painfully UST-y dialogue that Benedick and Beatrice have in the play. They didn't have that love-hate relationship. To be fair, saying “Well, this book was good but not quite as good as Shakespeare” is a super douchey thing to do, but if you're gonna make Much Ado references, I want the Much Ado funny-angst.
If you like really spicy books and are looking for a short read, definitely try Misbehaving. It's my first introduction to Tiffany Reisz and I've already downloaded The Siren for my vacation next month.
And if you're thinking you must watch the Kenneth Branagh Much Ado About Nothing RIGHT NOW, it's available on DVD at Amazon, BN, and other retailers near you. It's also available for digital streaming from Amazon. Plus there's the Joss Whedon version, which Carrie loved a lot.