Ruthie Knox’s latest book is available for free for a limited time on Wattpad. The book has been serialized over the last two months, each week bringing another chunk of the story. Knox’s emotional stories are a good fit for a serial; at no point do the chapter endings feel like forced cliffhanger endings designed to drive readers back the following week, but it was still hard to wait even overnight for the latest installment.
Truly has been a wonderful read. It’s so very close to the end now that even if you don’t like the serialized format, you should jump in and read: the next and last installment will post Monday, November 4. But hurry! Not long after that Knox’s publisher will pull the Wattpad book in anticipation of traditionally publishing the book in the summer of 2014.
Wattpad itself is really way more fun to use than I expected. It’s a book and Pinterest and Facebook all rolled into one, turning reading into a social media experience. Each chapter of Truly has a picture with it, a bit of inspiration or scenery related to the chapter and there’s space for comments and conversation at the bottom. It made reading the book feel at once intimate and really public, just like one of my favorite things in life: Twitter!
Truly is May's story, and she became my new best friend by the end of the first chapter. Just before the book opens, May stabbed her almost-fiancé in the hand with a fork after a truly, embarrassingly bad marriage proposal in which he calls May plain and ordinary and drunkenly tells a whole auditorium of people that what he loves most in all the world is football. May used a shrimp fork. I feel she should have gone with at least a salad fork. (And here’s where the Wattpad format is interesting: some of the commenters didn’t seem to see the problem with the proposal that made me so mad I wanted May to kick him for good measure. I don’t usually get to see other readers’ take on a scene until I’ve finished the book.)
You won’t be surprised to read that May has a bit of trouble owning up to any feelings that don’t fit her Wisconsin idea of what a nice girl should say or do or feel, so much trouble that leaving her pleasantly clueless boyfriend and would-be-fiancé is a shock to her. She doesn’t know what to say or do so she ends up in a sports bar in Manhattan where she meets Ben.
Oh, Ben. He is surly, hostile even, but underneath it all he’s such a good guy, fighting to do the right thing as he picks up the pieces of his life after losing his restaurant to his wife in a bitter divorce. May might be all repressed anger; Ben’s anger is hanging out for everyone to see, even when he’s trying to shove it back inside. They are complete opposites in how they cope with the problems life has dumped on them but even from the start, it’s easy to see how much better they are together. It takes them quite a while and a whole lot of mistakes to get there though.
I love the secondary characters in this book. They all make trouble of various kinds for the hero and heroine. May’s younger sister Allie is, I hope, the heroine of the second book in the series. Allie’s own wedding date is fast approaching and she’s got cold feet, or maybe something more and all she wants is her sister to come back to Wisconsin to give her advice or courage or something. May’s overbearing and repressed mother could veer into villain territory but her love and care for her daughter, however misguided, are what drive her. It’s hard not to forgive her, at least a little bit.
That’s probably my favorite thing about the book. All of the troubles stirred up by the other characters and the problems created by the hero and heroine themselves, it’s all such a disaster, but it’s a mess made by people trying hard to do the right thing, even when they are too blind to see clearly how very wrong their path is.
I’ll be reading on Monday, hoping they have found their way to a HEA.
Julia Broadbooks writes contemporary romance. She lives in the wilds of suburban Florida with her ever patient husband and bakes ridiculous amounts of sugary treats for her teens' friends. Find her on Twitter @juliabroadbooks.