Ruthie Knox’s How to Misbehave

How to Misbehave, Ruthie Knox’s new novella, will be released on January 28, 2013. I received an advanced reader copy from Random House Digital.


Here is how you misbehave:

  1. Look like a goody-two shoes but, in fact, be a woman looking for some sexual excitement in your life.
  2. Work in a community center where renovations are happening under the watchful eye of one hunky contractor.
  3. Get trapped in a basement with said hunky contractor during a tornado warning.
  4. Be lucky enough for the lights to go out, trapping you in a pitch black basement with him.
  5. Have revealing conversation while sitting in the dark.
  6. Flirt back when he starts hitting on you.
  7. Once outside, let the hunky contractor finger you while you’re pressed up against an oak tree.
  8. Do what these people are doing:

Cover of Knox's How to Misbehave. Woman in a man's white collared shirt on the let, the shirt is open and she is naked underneath. Her body is pressed up against the naked torso of a hunky, muscular man.

At least, that’s how Amber misbehaves in Ruthie Knox’s new novella.

Here’s the summary from Knox’s website:

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?

This is the first work in Knox’s new Camelot series. And it does a couple things: 1) sets up the Amber/Tony love story as they are ancillary characters in the Camelot novels (the first book in the series revolves around Amber’s brother) and 2) gives us a small but important glimpse into the Clark family, as we will see much more of them in the future books (at least the first one, which I have also read and will review soon). I think most importantly, we learn about Amber’s mother. For example, here is Amber explaining to Tony her mother’s Y2K obsession (this is set in 1999):

My mother is obsessed with it. She reads every article in the newspaper, and when it comes up on the news, she’s always like, ‘Turn it up! This is important!'”

“Your mother sounds like a trip.”

Her mother was controlling, difficult, and uptight. But really lovely, if you could get past all that. “She’s unique.”

I know sometimes it’s a bore to read reviews where the person gushes. To that I say, if you think gushy reviews are boring, you shouldn’t read anything I write about Ruthie Knox. I am big fan of hers. I have yet to read anything she’s written that I wouldn’t happily recommend and re-read again. Basically all my communication with Ruthie is me just fangirling over how much I like her work. This novella was no exception.

Knox paints such clear pictures of the settings, the characters, their chemistry, gives them all depth, they’re relatable in their charms and their faults. She also makes me laugh.

After Amber and Tony emerge from the dark basement and they assess the damage, they find a large tree branch has smashed Amber’s car. She is really angry and this is how Knox writes this scene:

She stomped her foot, spraying water all over his legs.

“Sorry!”

“No worries.”

“Gosh darn it!”

Her hands were curled into fists, her face was red, and she looked as though the top of her head might pop off if she didn’t calm down soon. “You ever consider saying a swear word or two?” he asked. “Just to take the edge off?”

“You mean like ‘fuck’?”

“Exactly.”

“Does that help?”

“Helps a lot.”

She glanced over the wreckage. The branch lay across the crumpled hood. It had punched a hole in the windshield, which mean the interior was probably full of water. The roof was half caved in, too.

“I hate that motherfucking tree!” she cried.

“Now you’re talking.”

“Stupid sonofabitching tree killed my car!”

“Sonofabitching” = good, funny stuff.

Ok. So, after their heavy petting session against a tree outside of the community center following their time in the pitch black basement, Tony drives Amber back to her place. They sit in his truck and debate whether he should come inside so they can have the sex they’re both craving. Tony is reluctant because he is sure that he will build up her expectations regarding commitment no matter how much she argues that she understands how much (or little) he wants to commit beyond sex. I found Tony so condescending in this conversation and then Knox rescued me from this scene by showing how smart and strong Amber smart really is:

Her expression hardened as he spoke, her mouth flattening out. “That’s so insulting.”

“What is?”

“You’re telling me you don’t want to come up because if you have sex with me, I’ll fall in love with you, and then I’ll want to marry you and you’ll break my heart.”

He just stared at her, unsure what to say. That was kind of what he was telling her. But when she put it that way, it sounded bad, and he could tell it pissed her off.

“Look, Amber–”

She cut him off. “That’s so arrogant.”

“Honey–”

“Quit ‘honeying’ me. I’m not your honey. I’m a person, Tony, and I want to have sex with you. Don’t go thinking you’re some kind of god just because you know I like you. You’re not going to break my heart by putting your…your dick in me. You might make me so mad I change my mind, though, if you keep talking to me like I’m some kind of delicate flower who’s going to wither away and die if you don’t handle me right.”

At that point, I went to my drawer full of Feminist Paraphernalia, rooted around until I found my “welcome to the club” badge, and immediately wrote Amber’s name on it.

This is a delightful, fun read. It’s 96 pages of wit and sex and love. Highly recommend it.

I give How to Misbehave 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Pre-order it: Kindle

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