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Review: Completely by Ruthie Knox

Completely (New York #3)
Ruthie Knox
Loveswept
2017, 252p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Beneath her whole “classic English beauty” appearance is an indomitable spirit that has turned Rosemary Chamberlain into something of a celebrity mountain climber. But after an Everest excursion takes a deadly turn, Rosemary is rescued by her quick-thinking guide, New York native Kal Beckett. Rosemary’s brush with death brings out a primal need to celebrate life—and inspires a night of steamy sex with the rather gorgeous man who saved her.

The son of a famous female climber with a scandalous past, Kal Beckett is still trying to find himself. In the Zen state of mind where Kal spends most of his time, anything can happen—like making love to a fascinating stranger and setting off across the world with her the next morning. But as their lives collide in the whirlwind of passion that is New York City, the real adventure is clearly just beginning. . . . 

This is the third and final book in the New York series, connected by the middle story to a previous book from Ruthie Knox. In this book, Rosemary is the ex-wife of Winston, from book  2. After their divorce she decided that she was going to do things for herself after a long time of simply being a wife and mother or as she describes it, “wallpaper”. She joins a group of women for something called the Seven Summits – climbing the highest peaks on the seven continents beginning for some reason, with the highest mountain in the world, Everest.

So the book opens with Rosemary at Camp Three high up Everest but a tragic avalanche further down the mountain below her means that her trek is cut short and she’s air lifted off the mountain and back down to Lukla. With her is Kal Beckett an ‘ice doctor’ known as Doctor Doom by the climbers and Sherpas. Kal is half Sherpa himself and his mother is a well known climber with a shadow in her past. Kal keeps an eye on Rosemary, spying that she’s about to come unhinged and the two of them spend a night together losing themselves in life.

I have to admit I expected the Everest climb to be a larger portion of the book and I was looking forward to that. Instead Rosemary heads to New York very early in the story, deciding she needs to see her daughter after that scare on the mountain. Kal is conveniently from New York and after he is robbed, the two of them fly to New York together after the night they share. Perhaps their shared experience makes everything so much more intense but it still feels very quick – this book takes place over the space of less than a week and because of that, even though they do spend quite a bit of time together, I still never really got the feeling that I got to know a lot about Kal. I felt I knew more about Rosemary from the previous books and because we’re in her head but even still some of her motivations feel a bit rushed and like they weren’t really thought through. I was really hoping that most of the book would take place during Rosemary’s climb however and that perhaps the fallout would be in New York. Instead we are treated to Rosemary running around after her daughter, who I remember as pretty bratty from Winston’s book but she really steps it up here. I get that she’s a teenage girl with some abandonment issues but she’s incredibly privileged and has chosen to distance herself from her mother (and possibly her father) as punishment. It was hard to really like Beatrice at all and I really hope she doesn’t end up getting her own book because I can’t imagine being in her head.

Winston and Allie make a couple of appearances in this book and then Allie seems to randomly adopt Rosemary and as Beatrice is working on a film with Allie’s mother the two worlds seem to collide but it doesn’t really feel very smooth. It feels a bit forced, especially in moments like when Allie’s father and Kal start having a random deep and meaningful conversation. It’s a quirky family and when they’re all together in one scene, it begins to feel a little too much. And it takes the focus off of Kal and Rosemary. They declare love quite easily but then the book kind of limps on for another 50+ pages where there seems to be conflict inserted for no real reason other than maybe the book seemed a bit short and the author should stretch it out a bit. A lot of made of the fact that Kal and Rosemary are so very different and how could they ever work which is interesting because they’ve been a “thing” for about five minutes but the sex is fabulous, they seem to enjoy talking to each other and how will they know if they never actually try it? Kal seemed like he needed a lot more work as a character as well – his mother is a Sherpa and his father white, so that part was really interesting and that combination is not one I’ve ever come across in fiction before and I enjoyed learning about the history and the role of the Sherpas in climbing Everest and how they view tourism, etc. But at the same time it seemed like Kal had gaping holes in his character and he seemed almost bland and deadpan. I never got much from him, not about the avalanche, his past, his fears for the future, just a blank expression and a tightening up.

This one just didn’t live up to my expectations unfortunately.

5/10

Book #161 of 2017

 

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Mini Reviews: Truly & Madly by Ruthie Knox

Truly (New York #1)
Ruthie Knox
Loveswept
2014, eBook
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

May Fredericks hates New York. Which is fair enough, since New York seems to hate her back. After relocating to Manhattan from the Midwest to be with her long-distance boyfriend, NFL quarterback Thor Einarsson, May receives the world’s worst marriage proposal, stabs the jerk with a shrimp fork, and storms off alone—only to get mugged. Now she’s got no phone, no cash, and no friends. How’s a nice girl supposed to get back to safe, sensible Wisconsin?

Frankly, Ben Hausman couldn’t care less. Sure, it’s not every day he meets a genuine, down-to-earth woman like May—especially in a dive in the Village—but he’s recovering from an ugly divorce that cost him his restaurant. He wants to be left alone to start over and become a better man. Then again, playing the white knight to May’s sexy damsel in distress would be an excellent place to start—if only he can give her one very good reason to love New York.

So it seems that lately, a lot of the books in my TBR pile have been a bit depressing. Cancer, death, etc. When this happens I tend to go on a romance binge, both contemporary and historical, almost to balance it out. I came across the second book in this series and it sounded awesome but figured I might as well get the first one too. So, so glad I did!

May moved to New York when her NFL-playing boyfriend went from the Packers to the Jets. She never really embraced the city and was ready to flee, especially after receiving a humiliating proposal. Mugged on her way out of the building, she’s left with no money, no ID and no desire to return to her now former boyfriend’s apartment. She heads to a comforting bar, a Packers haven and meets Ben Hausman. Who does not exactly fill the slot of ‘kind stranger’.

This book is adorable. I loved May and Ben is absolutely my favourite type of hero – bit gruff and grumpy (ok, he’s quite a lot grumpy) and broody. May at first just wants to use a phone to call a friend, maybe borrow a credit card number to get a hotel room and book a flight back home but eventually her lack of ID seems a problem and it’s a long weekend. So Ben offers her a place to crash and ends up deciding to show her New York – the real New York.

There’s super good chemistry here and lots of realistic-feeling angst as well. May and Ben don’t know each other but I adored the fact that what Ben loves/is attracted to about May are the things she feels uncomfortable about. She’s not exactly the “WAG” type – she’s statuesque. Curvy. Ben is a chef and he adores watching her eat and the fact that they both love food. The food portion of this book was amazing too – not only what Ben cooks but the different places they eat around the city. Ben also has a really interesting (and quite random) profession (he isn’t allowed to run a restaurant for a while, for reasons explained in the story) and it’s definitely not something you’d think someone in New York City would be doing.

What I enjoyed about this story is that it felt like Ben and May had to work at this relationship. They met in a very adorable way and there was sexual chemistry in spades but both had baggage and there was also the fact that they didn’t really know each other very well. They had to get to know each other properly and it was only natural that they’d stuff up, make mistakes. But the way in which they both worked to fix things, to be together was a really powerful part of the story.

8/10

Book #53 of 2017

Madly (New York #2)
Ruthie Knox
Loveswept
2017, 283p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

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?

The blurb of this one was the reason I purchased both these books. A British hero with a fancy suit who is probably going to be quite, well, British and I’m sold. I didn’t even realise for the longest time that Winston, our hero in this book, is Nev’s douchey brother from About Last Night, who has Cath investigated and tries to ruin their relationship. A few years have passed since that book and Winston is now divorced and living in New York City working for one of the branches of the family company. He’s in New York to keep an eye on his daughter Bea who is a student at university but Bea is proving to be quite independent really.

It was weird for me then that I didn’t quite enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped I would. I really loved About Last Night and I love a bit of an uptight hero and Winston had oodles of uptight about his personality in that novel but he did seem less so in this one. The fallout with Nev and his divorce seemed to have changed him significantly and he was quite sweet really. I find it quite amusing that he had such objections to Cath and then ended up in America, falling in love with an American woman who was definitely not the ‘right’ sort of wife for a wealthy British banker who will be a Baron or whatever it is one day…. probably all of the objections he had about Cath when Nev met her.

Allie is an interesting character but I’m not sure if I liked her as much as May. She’s emotionally manipulative  and although I think she has good intentions, her choices aren’t always wise ones. She’s carried a secret for a while now, thinking she needed to protect people but in finally revealing it, only hurts them because of her secrecy. I also really didn’t like the character of May and Allie’s mother (in May’s book, she’s pretty awful to May, always on at her about her weight, etc) and this book revolves quite a lot around her and it sets up something that you think is very messy and dramatic but in the end is quite boring and disappointing, almost like the author changed their mind part way through on what the mother was really up to.

I did really like the list that Allie and Winston made and the reasons behind the making of it. And like Ben and May, I also liked that sometimes, things didn’t really pan out perfectly. Some things were awkward, or didn’t really work. It felt real, natural. I always enjoy that about Ruthie Knox’s books. So whilst I didn’t love this one like I loved the first one, I still enjoyed it. And I’m definitely buying the 3rd book when it gets released later this year.

6/10

Book #55 of 2017

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About Last Night – Ruthie Knox

About Last Night
Ruthie Knox
Transworld Publishing
2012, eBook
Bought for my Kindle

Mary Catherine “Cath” Talarico has made plenty of mistakes in her young life which is the reason she has adopted the persona of “New Cath”. New Cath doesn’t make mistakes. New Cath keeps to herself. New Cath doesn’t go out drinking, go on dates or have relationships. All of those things end in epic mistakes so it’s best just to keep to herself. She is currently living in London working for a museum and she spends a lot of her time commuting and often observes the fellow passengers around her. One she has nicknamed “City” – good looking, nice suit, obviously works in London’s financial district, known as the City, hence the nickname.

New Cath slides a bit when she finds herself waking up in City’s apartment with very little recollection of how she got there. As the pieces of the night come back to her, she remembers that City was a perfect gentleman. She was right about the job and the fact that he comes from money, but it seems that City also has a bit of a hidden side, being a talented artist. Although Cath wants to run, because she doesn’t get involved with anyone these days, there’s an attraction that she can’t ignore. Even though City – actually Nev Chamberlain – would like more, Cath refuses dates, calling the shots turning up at night and leaving before dawn.

Nev is stuck in a career he’s no longer interested in, stifled from his real ambition to paint. Threatened with sacking from the family bank if he doesn’t settle down, get himself a wife and start a family by his overbearing brother, Nev has a proposition for Cath that he thinks could benefit them both – and that might gently ease Cath into more of a commitment. He’s already smitten with his tattooed bad girl but he’s aware that she’s ready to bolt at any moment. Although Cath agrees to his proposal it’s clear she has some reservations, given she has to spend a weekend with his family.

Even though Nev has always been open with her, Cath has been cagey about her past. It’s all about to come out during their weekend with his family and Cath knows she’s done the one thing she should never have done – fall for someone yet again who will only hurt her.

I first heard about this book over at Aussie author Rachael Johns’ blog where she had a guest post with the author talking about the book. I immediately wanted to read it because it sort of reminded me a little of Her Best Worst Mistake, by Sarah Mayberry that I read recently and the bad girl vs good boy scenario is very underrepresented in the romances I’ve read. So I bought it for my Kindle.

Cath isn’t really a bad girl, she’s just had a pretty hard life and she’s developed a shell around herself to protect herself from getting hurt again because she’s been hurt quite a lot. She keeps to herself now, having few friends in England (her mother was English but she grew up in America) and immersing herself in her work. She spends her time on the train observing people, knowing who is going to turn up at the station and in what order and although she’s well aware of “City” as she calls him, they’ve never really spoken until the morning she wakes in his flat. City’s real name is (unfortunately for him) Neville Chamberlain – yes, like that Prime Minister and this reveal does lead to one amusing thought/remark made by Cath when they’re in bed:

It was the world’s dorkiest name. Nearly as bad as Rupert. No, maybe a little worse than Rupert. Neville. For goodness’ sake. “I never thought I’d be penetrated by a Neville,” she said wonderingly. “Maybe a Colin, or a Simon….”

I really liked Nev, especially as he was so understanding and supportive of Cath and all her issues, patiently waiting for her to turn up when you know he’d have preferred to take it a step further and actually take her out on dates and be involved in a more traditional relationship. I felt a bit impatient with Cath because the truth behind her commitment-shy nature doesn’t come out until later in the book so a lot of the time when she was giving the poor guy the brush off and trying to back off (although admittedly she never does quite a good job of it, not as much as she’d like!) I would be questioning her in my mind, thinking “are you nuts woman?”

About Last Night was not quite what I expected, but I really liked the opposing characters of Nev and Cath and the fact that they were both a bit lonely and isolated. Cath is desperate to turn her life around and because of that, she’s not let anyone be close to her. Nev isn’t exactly happy in his own life either, disenchanted with banking. He’s attracted to Cath and her tattoos and I thought that part of the story was really fabulous. I appreciate tattoos with meaning and I feel that Knox put a lot of thought into Cath’s ink and what they meant and the stories behind them. I think they sounded quite beautiful.

A racy fun read but with a genuine deeper serious side. I enjoyed it.

8/10

Book #123 of 2012

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