Wednesday 7 August 2019

#CBR11 Book 62: "Ride with Me" by Ruthie Knox

Page count: 328 pages
Rating: 4 stars

#CBR11 Bingo: Travel

Tom is a brooding loner with a past, who gave up the corporate life and now works as a bike mechanic. He's estranged from most of his family, with the exception of his sister. Determined to cycle the Trans-America trail, from Oregon to Virginia, he's annoyed when he discovers said sister has been e-mailing someone (as him) to arrange for a riding partner. When he finds out that the "Alex" his sister has been e-mailing is, in fact, a Lexie, he is even more frustrated. He doesn't want company, but he also feels bad about leaving Lexie without any sort of protection on the journey. They agree to cycle together until Tom can find someone else for Lexie to ride safely with.

Lexie's parents met on the Trans-Am trail during the seventies, and she and her brother had always planned on doing the ride together. Then her brother went and married a woman with no interest in cycling, and Lexie has to decide whether she wants to do the ride by herself. Since no one answers her initial ad for a companion when it's obvious that she's a woman, she places a new one that seems more ambiguous. She figures that once all the details are ironed out, whomever agreed to ride with her could be persuaded to go along with the plan. She's not really expecting to meet a really hot, but taciturn and angry guy, with what seems to be very sexist views of female cyclists. Because he seems to take it as read that she'll be attracted to him, Lexie makes up a fictional husband to make sure the arrogant man is put in his place.

While both are incredibly annoyed by the other, they eventually grow to like one another and become friends over the course of their journey. Tom manages to get Lexie to relax more and rely a lot less on fixed plans, maps and her bike computer. Lexie gets Tom to open up more and gradually begin to interact with the people around him. Of course, the more time they spend together, the more the attraction between them grows, as well, and that fictional husband of Lexie's becomes quite the obstacle. Tom was cheated on by his now ex-wife and is determined never to be a part of any form of adultery. Having cycled thousands of miles together perpetuating the lie, Lexie is worried about how Tom will actually react if she tells him the truth.

As far as I can recall, this is the first romance novel I've ever read focused on cycling. It's a road trip romance, but the mode of transportation is bicycles, rather than a car, and these people are pretty serious about their hobby. On the other hand, as cycling cross country is a time consuming process, there is really not a smidge of the insta-love here. Tom and Lexie's journey takes many months and they have a lot of time to initially annoy each other, before the sparks fly, the truth comes out and they begin to get on (and get it on) passionately. During the first half of the book, the conflict is Tom and Lexie's differing views of how the journey should be conducted and them being seeming opposites. Once they start steaming up the tent every night (not to mention apparently having as much amorous time al fresco as possible), they are both in agreement that neither is looking for long term commitment, and their affair will end as soon as they reach Virginia. They seem to have very different plans for the future, and initially it seems impossible that they could continue a relationship after completing their long journey.

I've read a fair few Ruthie Knox novels in previous years, but she's not as prolific as a lot of other contemporary writers out there, and so I have a tendency to forget about her, only to rediscover her again every so often. Each time I pick up one of her books, I'm surprised by how witty and enjoyable it is to read, with great chemistry between the leads, clever dialogue and some really steamy smexy times. I still have a few of her older books on my TBR list, and should probably do myself the favour of reading them before I completely forget how much I tend to like her books.

Judging a book by its cover: See, it's not just hockey romances that have prominent man-titty on the cover. A book about cycling can too, even though the hero is described as wearing t-shirts for most of the scenes that aren't *insert funky bass line here*. Also, since the hero is described as having several prominent tattoos, it would have been nice to have that reflected in the cover image.

Crossposted by Cannonball Read.

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