May Fredericks is having a rough day, rough week, well….rough couple of months? After moving to New York to be with her famous football boyfriend she is proposed to in a less than acceptable way. Her instinctive response is to stab the man proposing with a fork, not a good thing since he is the quarterback, and then leave him. As if that wasn’t bad enough, during her attempt to leave him, she is mugged. Now she is sitting in a Packers bar with five dollars to her name, no cell phone to call a friend and nowhere to go. In her fantasy world some man will come in a sweep her off her feet, offer a place to stay and all the help she needs however that isn’t what life has in store for her.
Instead life gives her Ben Hausman. Ben is unhappy and biding his time until he is able to open his own restaurant again. After a nasty divorce, which could have been mostly his fault, he signed a non-compete agreement that will last two years. He has one year left on that agreement and he only wants to be surly and left alone until that time. He has no idea if he will be able to cut it in the business again but he has plenty of time to think about.
So when May approaches him, to say he is less than friendly to her is an understatement. After some quick soul-searching Ben decides this might be his moment to try and be a better man. He can be May’s temporary hero and prove to himself, and everyone else, that he can be something other than an angry jackass. What he doesn’t count on is time spent with May being the best thing that has happened to him in as along as he can remember.
I adore so many things about a Ruthie Knox story. First is the fact that there is so much more going on beyond the love story. In Truly I learned so much about New York. Ben tries to show May the city of New York from a different side and in doing so the reader is given a tour of New York, the stories behind it and the crazy every day hustle that happens there. Ben is a beekeeper and the reader is taught so much about bees. This aspect of the story was incredibly interesting to me. Forget your billionaire or CEO, a beekeeper! An angry, rage-filled, over-emotional beekeeper! Now this is my kind of hero.
Probably my favorite part of Ruthie’s writing though is how easily I identify with her characters. They aren’t perfect or always put together. Crap happens to them and they figure out ways to deal with it and move on. May is funny. She is self-conscious and only wants to break out of the box she has been put in. She is so like me in that she avoids conflict and it gives her a stomach-ache. She is awkward and has finally found someone in Ben that will just let her be who she wants to be.
“What?” she asked. But of course she knew what. She’d just practically had sex with a tray full of tacos, and now the postcoital embarrassment set in. He saw me naked! With tacos!
Ben, oh Ben. The man has issues. He was raised by an emotionally abusive father and now suffers from that upbringing. He is so full of anger and though he has tried so many things to get rid of it and stay calm, very little works.
This craving he felt for May- this painful, bitter empathy that swamped him when he saw how her family was, how her sister outshone her, how her mom underestimated her- it hurt his joints. In his heart. It hurt him all over, and that made him angry.
May might be one of the first people to understand him as a person. Rage is exactly what she doesn’t do but with Ben she is able to push back and help him. Their faults make them so much more likable and characters I have no problem pulling for.
Truly is the first of three books in Ms. Knox’s New York series. Madly and Completely are listed as sequels but I don’t know if they will be about other characters or more of Ben and May. I know May’s sister has a story that needs to be told but I would really love to see where Ben and May land. Overall, this was a really great story and I couldn’t put it down. If you are looking for a book with a fascinating couple and heartfelt love story, Truly should be the book for you! Final grade- B+
His gut was a Neanderthal. All it wanted was to eat and fuck and win at things.