Wednesday, January 21, 2015

TBR Review: Big Boy (Strangers On A Train) by Ruthie Knox

The TBR Challenge theme for January 2015 is "We Love Short Shorts -- Category Romances, Novellas, Short Stories."
He’ll be any man she wants—except himself.

A Strangers on a Train Story

Meet me at the train museum after dark. Dress for 1957.

When Mandy joins an online dating service, she keeps her expectations low. All she wants is a distraction from the drudgery of single parenthood and full-time work. But the invitation she receives from a handsome man who won’t share his real name promises an adventure—and a chance to pretend she’s someone else for a few hours.

She doesn’t want romance to complicate her life, but Mandy’s monthly role-playing dates with her stranger on a train—each to a different time period—become the erotic escape she desperately needs. And a soul connection she never expected.

Yet when she tries to draw her lover out of the shadows, Mandy has a fight on her hands…to convince him there’s a place for their fantasy love in the light of day.

Warning: Contains sexy role-playing, theatrical application of coal dust, and a hero who can rock a pair of brown polyester pants.
I'm probably the last person to read Big Boy! I purchased it as soon as it released after having read two books by Ruthie Knox that I just loved. Unfortunately, I never seemed to be in the right mood to read it and let it just lie there on my Kindle.

Mandy is a very young, busy, stressed out single mom. She became mother to her baby nephew Josh after her sister, brother-in-law, and three year old niece died in a tragic accident. Of course it changed her life irrevocably at a time when she was not quite ready for it. To ease stress and give herself time to breathe, once a month Mandy goes out on role-playing dates with a man she met online. Rules are set from the beginning, they each dress-up in period costumes, keep up with their individual role during the dates, and do not exchange names or personal information.

Although technically Mandy and her hot, role-playing partner had only met a total of nine times in nine months when this story began, Knox worked to build this relationship for over a year. That slowly becomes obvious as the story progresses. It shows in how both characters, but particularly Mandy, have changed and influenced each other over that period of time through conversations, the role playing characters, and the anticipation of seeing each other again.

The role playing itself is a fantastic part of this novella for different reasons. I love the descriptions of the costumes they wore and how well Mandy and her partner-in-sexy times get into their roles. And that brings us to Knox's sex scenes which are steamy hot as well as sensual. No need for dom/sub titillation in this novella either. Take a look at the "warning" at the bottom of the summary, those brown polyester pants were hot. What a scene!

Part of the excitement comes from the fact that these two people are strangers, and pretend that they are someone else. Let themselves go. Give themselves a break. But, this is a contemporary and as such, I always look at behavior through a contemporary lens. So, of course there is one huge niggle that made the hairs at the back of my neck stand straight up. It has to do with Mandy going on a first date with someone she met through the internet and met, alone, at a secluded place that first time! I don't care if she had mace as precaution, this is not safe behavior. If you have a daughter who dates, I don't care the age, this will bother you too. I had to suspend disbelief in order to continue with the story because who does that these days? It bothered me.

Once I placed that aside, however, I loved Big Boy, the trains and historical bits about them. Knox executed the romance and eroticism in this novella beautifully and I found that the conflict between the protagonists was valid and well thought out. I like both characters and believe they had good reasons for seeing each other and for keeping the relationship "as is" as long as they did. The epilogue showed a good happy ending that I found satisfying. A great, quick read. Grade: B+

7 comments:

  1. Well you're not the last person to read it ::ahem::. I have this one and another book in the series languishing somewhere on my hard drive as I type this. And dang, now I want to read this RIGHT NOW!

    I read a Knox novella for last year's Challenge (How To Misbehave) and enjoyed it tremendously. But do you think I've picked up another book by her yet? Of course not. I've got a couple in my TBR (yes, besides Big Boy) - I have no excuse. Except, you know, hording books.

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    1. Glad I'm not the only one, Wendy. :) You have a short, but great read ahead of you. I have two other novellas from the Strangers on the Train series in my Kindle. I've moved them up on my queue. :)

      I still have two other books by Knox in my TBR and have enjoyed everything I've read by her so far. Sigh… is that "too many books and so little time" thing, I think.

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  2. Oh goodness. I adore this novella.

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    1. Oh, I can see the reason behind that Angie. This novella is going to be a reread for me. :)

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  3. I love the whole idea of a role-playing date but agree with you about meeting a stranger in a secluded place. Not smart! Still, I'll be sure to give this one a try!

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    1. Oh yes, this novella is definitely worth a try, Leslie. Mandy is young and not perfect, which I like about her. But yes, that first meeting brought the mom out in me immediately. :) I was able to put it aside though… I hope you love it!

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  4. This is too special a book to spoil with further plot summary - but it's also important to note the truly exceptional writing, the small verbal gestures that underscore the theme of the novel, such as the photographs of train wrecks that line the hallway to the male protagonist's office. Ruthie Knox knows her way around a sentence and has an unerring sense of pace and timing. She's a writer to watch, and this is a keeper, a book to re-read and to savor.

    Mariz
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