Tag: Ruthie Knox

Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie Knox

Posted March 23, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie KnoxReviewer: Jen
Madly by Ruthie Knox
Series: New York #2
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Format: eARC
Pages: 273
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

An impulsive trip to New York City, a heartthrob from London, and a scandalous to-do list turn a small-town girl’s life upside down in this sultry romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Truly and About Last Night.

Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways.

Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?

I’ve been childishly whining ever since I saw that Winston Chamberlain was the hero of Madly, about how it made me nervous because I couldn’t stand him. He appeared in another of Knox’s books, About Last Night, and he was cruel to his brother, selfish, and so, so uppity. It didn’t help that I positively hated the ending of that book, too, though that had nothing to do with Winston. (You don’t need to read that book first, and frankly it’s probably better if you don’t so you don’t end up with preconceived notions like I did.) Allie also wasn’t entirely my favorite when she appeared in her sister’s book, Truly. I mention all this because if you hadn’t already heard my whining, you should know about my prior feelings; they are part of understanding what I liked and didn’t like about Madly.

Madly takes place four years after the events of About Last Night. Winston has since gotten divorced and moved from London to New York City to be near his college-age daughter and to work in the NYC location of his aristocratic family’s bank. It’s also been a little under a year since the events of Truly, when Allie Fredericks dumped her fiance on their wedding day. Allie has impulsively come from her home in Manitowoc, WI to New York following her mom, who she suspects is having a long term affair with a New York artist. When she bumps into Winston in a bar, he starts helping her track down her mom.

First off, while I was concerned about how Knox would redeem Winston, I’m happy to say I was satisfied. We don’t see Winston’s transformation in Madly, but Winston has indeed undergone a transformation since his low point in About Last Night when he tried to blackmail his brother Nev and tear down Nev’s love interest, Cath. We also learn that Winston’s marriage had been a mess at the time, and he tried to force his life, and his ex-wife, into some predefined shape he thought was the “right one” for a man of his position. When that all fell apart, he realized how wrong it was, both for himself and everyone around him. You get the sense that he’s spent the last years trying his best to simply be kind to everyone around him. He’s mostly patched things up with Nev and Cath, though there’s still some residual tension, and he’s trying to be a good dad to his daughter, Bea, without smothering her or forcing her into a box like he did with her mother. However, in trying so hard to make up for the past and give everyone space, he’s kind of forgotten what he wants or needs. He isn’t unhappy exactly, but at the start of the book he spends the bulk of his time watching Netflix and waiting for Bea to occasionally give him a few minutes of her time. Rinse, Repeat. When Allie storms into his life, it brings a lightness and fun that he obviously forgot he was capable of. I kind of can’t believe I’m saying this but…I actually liked seeing Winston come back to life a bit!

Family, with all the messy, complex, and overwhelming emotions that implies, is a huge theme in so many of Knox’s books, this one included. The Chamberlain’s family drama mostly happened in About Last Night and the intervening years, so this book focuses on the Fredericks. The family is kind of imploding around Allie, and she’s fighting to figure out what to do about it. There was a point in the book where I actually wanted to put it down because it was a little too much. Maybe it’s because of some people I know who are going through their own hard family dramas that things felt a little too real, but I think most of us have had hurtful family secrets or loved ones who profoundly disappointed us. It was almost too painful to read about what might happen. (As a parent, the interactions between Winston and Bea were also sweet but a little hard to read. He loves her so much but is afraid to hold on too tightly, but he can see her growing up and pulling away anyway…ugh, who is chopping onions in here?) I pushed on, though, and was rewarded with a thoroughly happy ending. It was perhaps unrealistically happy, but I can’t complain because wouldn’t we all like our own messy family problems to end so happily?

While Winston was redeemed, though, I never thoroughly warmed to Allie. She felt a bit inconsistent, first of all. She’s supposed to be so flighty and impulsive, but other than flying to New York on a whim I didn’t really see that. She mostly just felt…opinionated, which is fine but not the same thing. She says she wants to take care of everyone and feels like it’s on her to hold things together, but she kept running away when things got hard. She was not particularly kind to Winston (and geez, no one is more surprised than me that I’m saying that, haha) when all he did was love and support her from the start. In general, she acts pretty self absorbed and a little immature throughout the book, and it got on my nerves by the end. This is some of what bothered me about her in Madly, too, and I was disappointed to see that unlike Winston, she hadn’t changed much between books. Moreover, I wasn’t quite sure whether she had really had a transformation by the end of this book either. Sure, some of her family issues were resolved, but had Allie herself changed? When I thought about that question at the end of the book all I could come up with was…probably? I think so? I believed she was good with Winston, but in my mind she wasn’t ready for the implied HEA, not quite yet at least.

This was a complicated book full of big themes and big emotions, and I admire that Knox never shies away from tackling complicated human beings. Plus, it is full of funny, lovely dialog, and it’s very sexy. (And boy I could write paragraphs about the awesome and complex sex scenes in this book because I have so many thoughts. There’s a “list”, sex toys, lots of sex that’s not just PinV, orgasm isn’t always the goal…such good stuff, but go read and judge for yourself!) It made me think, and it was a great read.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.


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Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie Knox

Posted March 14, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie KnoxReviewer: Tracy
Madly by Ruthie Knox
Series: New York series #2
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Format: eARC
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

An impulsive trip to New York City, a heartthrob from London, and a scandalous to-do list turn a small-town girl’s life upside down in this sultry romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Truly and About Last Night.

Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways.

Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?

Allie Fredericks is trying to save her family.  For as long as she can remember her mother has randomly disappeared from their lives in Wisconsin.  Allie’s dad always said that she was taking time for herself.  This time Allie found out that she headed to New York so she decided to follow her to finally get to the bottom of everything.  She’s stalking her mom at a bar (with the man who is her biological father) when she enlists the help of a stranger – Winston Chamberlain.  He not only helps her but ends up giving her a place to stay after she loses her mom in the New York shuffle. While trying to find her mother she enlists the help of all of Winston’s friends and relatives and even his personal assistant.  Her simple sleuth job turns into a major deal and soon everyone is looking for her mom.

Allie is distraught about a great many things and decides that she needs to unload her woes to someone.  She uses Winston as she doesn’t know him and it feels safe to tell him things she maybe wouldn’t have told someone she knew well.  When they start talking though they find they have an attraction to each other and also sexual issues that have never been discovered or worked out (she with her ex-fiancé and he with his ex-wife).  They decide to make a list (sexual) and get through it before she heads back to Wisconsin.

While in New York Allie also tries to reconnect with her sister but that ends up causing more issues than fixing anything.  Allie soon realizes that she has to figure how to get her own life in order and let everyone else live their lives their own way.  She also has to figure out what to do with her growing feelings for Winston and that’s not an easy thing to do.

Madly was a pretty fun and interesting book.  Despite that, however, I found it to be exhausting.  The characters, especially Allie, made me a bit crazy at times and I just needed Allie to take a deep breath and be calm for one moment. Lol

Allie was a crazy girl who was business wise and personality strong.  She loved her family but pretty much felt that they were falling apart and she took it upon herself to fix everything.  I think it was because she couldn’t fix her own life the way it needed to be therefore she needed to fix everyone else’s.  She had a big personality and this was shown to us again and again.  She wore me out, truth be told.  I was quite happy that Winston could bring her down to earth once in a while.

I didn’t connect completely with either Allie or Winston but I did like them together.  I thought that they played off of each other well and the scenes when they were alone together were my favorite.

This is a sequel to the first book in the series, Truly, but it also catches us up with Nev and Cath from About Last Night (a book I loved).  It was good to see Nev and Cath again and to meet Winston’s daughter, Bea, who was awesome.

Overall a good book but a frenetic one.  I’d say you definitely have to be in the mood for a wild ride to truly enjoy this story.

Rating: 3.5/3.75 out of 5


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Guest Review: Truly by Ruthie Knox

Posted July 28, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

trulyJen’s review of Truly (New York #1) by Ruthie Knox

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

This book is available from Loveswept. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Guest Review: Roman Holiday: The Complete Adventure by Ruthie Knox

Posted May 14, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

roman-holiday-by-ruthie-knoxJen’s review of Roman Holiday: The Complete Adventure by Ruthie Knox

Ashley Bowman has always been impetuous, but even she is a little shocked when she chains herself to a palm tree in the Florida Keys hours before a hurricane is due to blow in. It’s all with the hope of saving her childhood home from a heartless Miami developer. But the moment she meets Roman Díaz she realizes he does have a heart—it’s just encased in ice. Ashley’s determined to get Roman to crack . . . even if she has to drag him all over the eastern seaboard to do it.

Roman can hardly believe he’s been talked into driving across the country with this brazen wild child in a skimpy bikini. He tells himself he had no choice—Ashley insists he meets the elderly snowbirds whose community will be displaced by his career-making development deal. But in truth he knows that there’s something about Ashley that makes him want to get a little wild himself . . . and the closer they get, the more tempted he becomes.

I hate serials. It makes me cranky and frustrated to have to wait for another installment of a story I’m invested in, so despite the fact that I have enjoyed past Ruthie Knox books, I shied away from her serially published Roman Holiday. Now that all the episodes have been published as a complete set, though, I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.

The story opens with Ashley Bowman chaining herself to a palm tree in an attempt to prevent the demolition of her deceased grandmother’s Florida rental property by real estate developer, Roman Diaz. Knowing he can’t afford the bad publicity, Ashley is able to negotiate a truce, and it sets off a series of circumstances that throws the two together on an unexpected road trip. Right from the start, Ashley and Roman seem to be at opposite ends of the universe. Ashley is flighty and lacks direction in her life, but she has a huge heart and cares immensely for those around her. Roman has an almost laser-like professional focus for himself, but he’s closed off and virtually emotionally paralyzed. Each seems to represent the qualities the other most despises in life, and they are constantly at each other’s throats. The more time they spend together, though, the more they learn that the other is more complex than they thought.

Roman Holiday is kind of a classic epic story. Ashley and Roman essentially go on a quest to resolve this issue of what to do with the property, though like any great quest the actual purpose turns out to be much  more meaningful. On that quest they encounter various characters who both contribute to or try to disrupt their journey, and, most importantly, they go through their own personal transformations. In the end, both see themselves, the world, and each other much differently. Ashley has to deal with her complicated grief about her grandmother’s death. Roman has to come to terms with his own terrible background. Both have to figure out who they are apart from the definitions and limits others have imposed on them. I loved that this story is just as much about the personal journey each one of them has to make as it is about how they come together.

The story was not easy at first, however. I really disliked both Ashley AND Roman for a good chunk of the book! Ashley is annoying and self-righteous at the start. I struggle to sympathize when characters make stupid decisions, and Ashley seemed to make a lot of them early on. Roman was unlikable too–he was so out-of-touch with emotions (his own and others’) that it was bizarre and off-putting. As each character is slowly revealed and explored, I grew to understand and appreciate both of them more. As with most epics, the hero and heroine have to get torn down before they can get built back up. Roman in particular kind of falls apart, losing his clothes, his girlfriend, his pristine car, and even his sense of self to some extent. But after that tear down, Knox builds them back up, and that’s where the magic happens. Ashley and Roman both genuinely grow and change during the story, and both end as better people than they started.

The romance is slow to develop (at least in terms of number of pages), but the payoff is just lovely. While most of the story technically takes place over the course of only about 2 weeks, this is kind of a leisurely book because it’s so long. There is a lot of intensity and interaction packed into those weeks, and Knox really explores it all in this longer format. While in the book Ashley and Roman go from enemies to lovers in only a few days, it doesn’t feel that rushed because they spend so much concentrated time together. I appreciate that they don’t “fix” each other either. They most definitely serve as inspiration for each other, and they push the other to be the best version of themselves that they can be, but Ashley and Roman both have to do the work of growing on their own. I love seeing couples that enhance, rather than complete, each other!

Roman Holiday is a complex story. In particular, I appreciated the nuanced way Knox explores the notion of family. At first the set up seems like so many other romances, where there are clear “good guys” and “bad guys” in Ashley and Roman’s past. The book reminds us that families are never perfect, however, and no one loves perfectly. People make mistakes, do hurtful things, try hard but screw up. They also love fiercely, make the best of difficult situations, and do what they think is right at the time. In other words, life is messy, complicated, and scary, which is exactly what both Ashley and Roman have to learn to cope with. The message of continuing to hope and love despite the fear and mess is really powerful and moving.

I could go on and on about this book because there is just so much more to explore–issues of race (Roman is black, of Afro Cuban descent), immigration, and gentrification; a side story focused on Roman’s ex-girlfriend, etc. It’s not perfect, of course. There were times it felt like things moved too quickly (Roman’s transformation in particular felt a little abrupt and drastic), and some of the set up is a little far-fetched. However, this story is so rich and unique that I loved it. I still don’t think I’d want to read it as a serial, but if you’re looking for a complex contemporary romance, I don’t think Roman Holiday would disappoint.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

This book is available from Loveswept. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Making it Last by Ruthie Knox

Posted July 16, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Genres: Anthologies (multiple authors)

A hotel bar. A sexy stranger. A night of passion. There’s a part of Amber Mazzara that wants those things, wants to have a moment — just one — where life isn’t a complicated tangle of house and husband and kids and careers. Then, after a long, exhausting “vacation” with her family, her husband surprises her with a gift: a few days on the beach . . . alone.

Only she won’t be alone long, because a handsome man just bought her a drink. He’s cool, he’s confident, and he wants to take Amber to bed and keep her there for days. Lucky for them both, he’s her husband. He’s only got a few days in Jamaica to make her wildest desires come true, but if he can pull it off, there’s reason to believe that this fantasy can last a lifetime.

Amber Mazzara has been married for 10 years and she feels like she’s lost herself. She takes care of the kids, takes care of her husband, takes care of the house but that’s about it. She doesn’t know how to fix what’s wrong, especially as she can’t put her finger on exactly what IS wrong. Her husband Tony doesn’t know how to fix it either and he just wants to make the woman he loves happy. He tries out a new strategy by acting as a stranger when he sees her in a bar. It works for a while but then they both realize they want their spouses only – and to work out their lives.

This is book 4 in the Camelot series and it circles back around to Amber and Tony who we read about in the first novella. This takes place 14 years after the couple first met and it shows us that while getting together and falling in love has it’s ups and downs, so does marriage. The story had much more depth than I thought it would and I loved that. The emotion that it contained and the emotion that it stirred in me was unexpected.

I could obviously tell that these were two people who loved each other deeply but didn’t know how to fix things. Better communication would have done wonders but even that wouldn’t have worked completely. Of course we as readers get to see both sides of the story and I could see where each character would have a hard time grasping what the other needed.

This was a really great story that I enjoyed reading. It was still very sexy and romantic but also down to earth and more realistic than your typical romance. This is one I definitely recommend that everyone read.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ruthie Knox

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