RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: How to Misbehave by Ruthie Knox


Title: How to Misbehave
Author: Ruthie Knox
Publication Info: Loveswept January 2013
ISBN: 978-0-345-54530-5
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book How to Misbehave This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Amanda K. Byrne. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Novella Romance category.

The summary:

As program director for the Camelot Community Center, Amber Clark knows how to keep her cool. That is, until a sudden tornado warning forces her to take shelter in a darkened basement with a hunk of man whose sex appeal green lights her every fantasy. With a voice that would melt chocolate, he asks her if she is okay. Now she's hot all over and wondering: How does a girl make a move?

Building contractor Tony Mazzara was just looking to escape nature's fury. Instead, he finds himself all tangled up with lovely Amber. Sweet and sexy, she's ready to unleash her wild side. Their mutual desire reaches a fever pitch and creates a storm of its own–unexpected, powerful, and unforgettable. But is it bigger than Tony can handle? Can he let go of painful memories and let the force of this remarkable woman show him a future he never dreamed existed?

And here is Amanda's review:

Amber Clark’s a good girl. She stays out of trouble, she’s polite, helpful, and she has no idea what she’d say to Tony Mazzara if she could work up the nerve to actually talk to him. Tony’s not a good boy, though he’s trying to change that. When the tornado warning siren goes off and sends the two of them into the basement of the Camelot Community Center, it’s the perfect opportunity for Amber to finally have that conversation she’s been craving – as well as a hell of a lot more. All she has to do is convince Tony to help her learn how to get into the right amount of trouble.

How to Misbehave is entertaining and it’s a fun way to spend a couple of hours. The writing is great, the pacing tight, the characters fully realized. I’m not usually a fan of the good girl character. Too often they have traits that just make me shake my head in disbelief. Amber’s different. Yes, she graduated from a Christian college, and while I wish she wasn’t so reluctant to swear (that’s the foul-mouthed trucker in me talking), she’s got a spine of steel under her wide-eyed innocence, and she’s ready to let her inner seductress off the leash. Her openness to new experiences under Tony’s hands was one of my favorite things about her. The tension between them already exists when the book opens, and it grows stronger and thicker the longer they dance around it; so when Amber finally convinces Tony that it’s okay for them to take their clothes off, you’re about ready to keel over from the anticipation.

Tony’s a flirt, unwilling to take things past a certain point because he thinks he knows what’s good for Amber, and he’s not it. His guilt, stemming from the secret he keeps, is a tangible thing, a wet, heavy blanket he’s only able to shrug off for so long before it settles over him again. He’s trying to be the responsible one, both with Amber and for his family, and that desire shapes a lot of his decisions. Also, the man wears a hard hat like nobody’s business. On the not so plus side, there’s a thread that’s introduced that never gets resolved (he’s afraid of the dark, and you get the sense there’s a reason for it beyond a childhood fear he never outgrew) and that bugged me.

The shortened timeline bugged me, too. Their instantaneous connection comes too close to insta-love for me to believe it, especially Amber’s reaction to the morning after, as well as Tony’s choice to open up to Amber as quickly as he did. I get that, with novellas, you have to compress the story somewhat to fit within the word count, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. For the most part, How To Misbehave works within the boundaries set for it, but for the way it ended, I wanted the relationship to be as fleshed out as the characters were.

Ultimately, Misbehave doesn’t break any new ground. I didn’t finish it and think, wow, this totally deserves an award, and then immediately go on a backlist buying binge. It’s a solid story, though, a great introduction to a new to me author, one that I’ll be keeping an eye on in the future.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | All Romance eBooks

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    “The tension between them already exists when the book opens, and it grows stronger and thicker the longer they dance around it”


    And I agree: I liked this novella, I was moved by the novella, but I didn’t find it as earth-shattering as a tornado or the heroine’s first time ;)

  2. 2
    LauraL says:

    I would be bugged by the unresolved thread about Tony’s fear of the dark, too, especially since it is hinted at book description. Good call, Amanda.

    I have read several Ruthie Knox’s books and decided Ride With Me had to be a keeper because of the way the attraction builds through the story.

  3. 3
    JacquiC says:

    I love Ruthie Knox’s books, but I had similar issues with this novella that you did.  It felt too short and too “insta-love-y”.  There is a sequel to this one, the name of which escapes me at the moment, which I actually liked better, even though I think it is also a novella.

  4. 4
    kkw says:

    I liked this, despite the unresolved issues. Maybe because of the unresolved issues. It made the characters and their lives more real.  And I simply resolved everything in my head to my own satisfaction. (Everyone goes to therapy, she discovers agency and gets medicated, he learns to forgive himself and relax control, their sex life gets kinkier in a satisfying for everyone fashion, eternal happiness ensues.) The sequel really ruined that for me, because they were supposed to be happy already, dammit. So I ignore the sequel, and carry on liking this one.

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