May Fredericks hates New York. Which is fair enough, since New York seems to hate her back. Just weeks after moving from Wisconsin to Manhattan, she receives the world’s worst marriage proposal, stabs her boyfriend with a shrimp fork in a very public venue, and accidentally becomes notorious. And that’s before she gets mugged.
At her wit’s end, May washes up at a Packers bar in Greenwich Village, where she meets a surly, unhelpful guy who hates her shoes and calls her ex a douche.
His name is Ben. He used to be a chef. Now he’s a rooftop beekeeper with anger management issues. She wouldn’t even like him, but he reminds her of home … and he knows where to find all the best food in the Village.
She makes him laugh. He buys her tacos and cowboy boots. The longer they’re stuck together, the better May and Ben get along … and the harder they fall. TRULY is a quirky, modern New York love story unlike any you’ve read before.
About the Serialization
TRULY, the first novel in Ruthie Knox’s forthcoming New York Series, will be serialized in its entirety on Wattpad. Look for chapters every Monday from September 3 through November 4! Once completed, the full Wattpad version of TRULY will be pulled, so be sure to read it while it’s still available!
TRULY will be published by Loveswept/Random House in Fall 2014. Two sequels — MADLY and COMPLETELY — will follow.
Let me just start off by saying that I love, love, loved this book. It’s funny and sweet and unique and interesting, with vivid characters and settings…and did I mention I loved it?
May Fredericks is a woman from Wisconsin who has ended up in New York City after following, and dumping, her NFL star boyfriend Dan. He makes a very lame, very public marriage proposal that convinces her to end it. While trying to get to the airport to go home, though, she gets her purse stolen. She has no credit cards, no ID, and no phone. Unable to reach her friends or family and unwilling to crawl back to Dan, she goes into a bar known for being a Packers fan spot and spends her last $5 on a beer while she tries to figure out what to do. While there, she meets Ben Hausman. Ben is an extremely grumpy chef turned beekeeper/urban farmer who also happens to be from Wisconsin, though he’s lived in NYC for many years. Ben is divorced, angry, and lonely, but for some reason he’s drawn to May and starts to help her.
May is one of my new favorite romance heroines. She’s very Midwestern, in both the best and worst ways. She’s friendly and open, sometimes a little too much for her own good. She wears plain, practical clothes from Kohls, spends her free time with her family, and is so busy trying to please others she doesn’t express what she really wants. She finds New York overwhelming, confusing, dirty, and lonely. She’s not a cliched, innocent small town girl though. She may not love the big city, but she seems to want to, and she is hungry for life. She’s a larger woman, very tall and heavier than she’d like to be. I thought her body image issues were completely realistic. She feels self conscious and knows she doesn’t have the ideal body shape, and she lets it creep into her attitude, clothing choices, sexuality, etc. However, she’s not a wreck about it. She knows (intellectually, at least) that “ideal body shape” is BS and tries not to let that fear rule her life. In other words, she’s exactly like tons of other smart, self aware, real women I know. Part of her journey in this book is to recognize her authentic self, which includes how she sees her physical body as well as her personality. May learns to get angry. Instead of being the soother, the peace maker, the quiet agreeable one, she learns that it’s ok to be upset, to express your true feelings (even if they’re not always pretty), and to get yourself a little dirty. She learns that her fantasies about the perfect guy, the perfect romance, and even the perfect body don’t exist. Real life is much messier, but that doesn’t mean it can’t contain joy and magic, if she’s willing to take risks.
I also loved Ben, though I’ll say that he is not going to appeal to everyone. He’s angry, in a way that I can guarantee is probably going to seem unhealthy to some people. I accepted his anger, though, because to me it never felt out of control. At the start of the book, he already knows he’s too angry and has been actively working to change that. He definitely says hurtful things to May at some points, but I feel like it was more of a bad coping habit than a sign of his true self. When May calls him out and tells him angry is ok but mean is not, he stops the most hurtful behavior. That doesn’t mean it isn’t shitty, but by the end of the book I believed he was in a much better place and wasn’t as angry.
This book really gets the ambiance right, too. First, food is a big part of May and Ben’s relationship. The first thing they do together when they leave the bar is go to a little NYC taqueria. Ben shows May how to properly accessorize a taco, and I fell in love with him a little bit right there. Hearing about the food Ben cooks, the gardening he does, and his passion for beekeeping was fun and had my mouth watering. The food is sexy on it’s own, but mostly it’s sexy because it’s part of Ben’s passion. I am also married to someone who worked in the restaurant industry for many years, and Knox’s details about Ben’s life and job felt very accurate, too. Knox is great at getting inside a setting and using little details to paint a picture without the reader even realizing that’s what she’s doing. And I was totally tickled by May and Ben’s time in Wisconsin. I’m from the Midwest myself, and I have tons of family in Wisconsin. I could see May’s family–they could be my family! I could completely picture her house, her mom, the family gatherings, etc. They eat macaroni salad and watch the Packers and are just a tiny bit suspicious of New York City. They like things quiet and don’t cause scenes or get too angry. I also appreciated that Knox doesn’t portray them disrespectfully. May has a decent, loving family, even if they do need to do a better job accepting life’s dirty moments.
Another thing I appreciate about many of Knox’s books is that she embraces ambiguity in characters and situations. People are rarely all bad or all good. For example, May’s ex, Dan, is not the bad guy. He seems like a nice guy, and he tries to give May what she needs. He’s not the right match for her, but that’s ok. May isn’t portrayed as an angel either. You can’t ignore the fact that she’s not really fair to Dan–she ducks out on him while he’s at work, and she avoids calling him to talk things over for far too long. She does it because she needs an escape, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t acting selfishly. I like it that selfish choices aren’t excused, but they are portrayed as necessary sometimes if you’re trying to live an authentic life. Life isn’t always black and white, and I like seeing that portrayed in romances.
I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed this book, though I don’t know if I’m really doing it justice. Instead, I’ll just say that this is my favorite of Knox’s books so far, which is saying a lot as I’ve enjoyed all the ones I’ve read. It portrays a romance that seems extremely believable but no less romantic for that realism. I feel like May and Ben could be people I know, but their story is full of that everyday magic that happens between two people in love. I know elements of this book might not work for all readers, but if you enjoy romances without cliches, crazy situations, excessive angst, or outrageous characters, I think Truly might hit the spot for you. It sure did for me.
Grade: 5 out of 5