How to Misbehave by Ruthie Knox
Contemporary romance novella released by Loveswept on January 28, 2013
What woman can resist a hot man in a hard hat? Beloved author Ruthie Knox kicks off her new Camelot series with this deliciously sexy original novella, in which a good girl learns how to misbehave . . . with all her heart.
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?
Amber is good girl. She’s just out of a religious college, where she even did a mission trip to an impoverished area. She just moved out of her parents’ home, but she’s only across the way from them and she talks to her mother very often.
Tony is a construction worker, a high school/college# dropout. He’s the far side of thirty. He has a history. He has the kind of reputation that would scare any parent.
This setup is a well-loved romance trope. An older more experienced man is loved by an innocent young girl.
But in Knox’s hands this story takes twists and turns that are as surprising as they are satisfying. Amber is a squeaky clean good girl, but she’s no virgin waiting to be seduced. Amber just, in her own words, “got used to being good.” She actively, if hesitantly, pursues Tony. She’s neither uninterested nor afraid.
Her mother Janet isn’t an evil, oppressive character. She’s hovering and maybe a little controlling, but Amber pushes back good naturedly and they have a very real and wonderful and flawed relationship. The subtlety and complexity of their relationship was one of the real joys of this book.
Tony is the one who has fears, demons chasing him. He tries to be responsible and tells Amber he’s protecting her since he’s not looking for anything permanent. Amber’s reply?
Her expression hardened as he spoke, her mouth flattening out. “That’s so insulting.”
His conflict is heart wrenching, not something easily solved in 30K words or in the compressed timeline of this story. But again Knox’s storytelling instincts are sharp. The story doesn’t resolve the conflict so much as present us with the knowledge that these two wonderful people are better off together. Tony looks down at a smiling Amber just before their first kiss.
Nobody looked at him like that, with such open, boundless optimism.
At 30,000 How to Misbehave is a super quick read which worried me a little when I started it. As a rule, I don’t like novellas because they’re, well, short. But I love Ruthie’s stories, so I dove in. I’m so glad I did. The story is short but in no way did I feel the conflict or the character arcs were short changed. This is a full story that had me checking how much was left in the book as I was on the edge of my seat desperate that things work out for Tony and Amber.
If you’ve never read Ruthie Knox before, this is little bite of a story is a great way to check her out. The good news? The novella is the first in a new series. The next two full length novels star Amber’s siblings Caleb and Katie.