After reading a wonderful review of Ruthie Knox’s http://www.ruthieknox.com/ Ride with Me (see review here: http://amyraby.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/book-review-ride-with-me/), I bought it, devoured it, took notes in it, and added it to my mental top 10 romance novels list.
Why, you ask? Because it was awesome. I’ll elaborate.
Romance novels have a formula. There has to be a hero and heroine. There has to be a happy ending. There has to be relationship conflict and resolution. There has to be some tension outside the relationship, something that puts pressure on the lovers from another direction and raises the stakes of the story. There has to be character growth that could not possibly happen without the influence of the hero/heroine.
There are a handful of romance novels I have read that combine these elements as fluidly as Ride With Me while layering in plenty of wit and charm and plain old immaculate writing. In fact, as I read, I was not only thoroughly entertained, but I took notes on the craft. I’d highlight something and write: Here’s where the stakes get higher. Here’s the hero’s black moment. Here’s where the heroine has her epiphany.
I can honestly say reading Ride With Me has made me a better writer. I’ve been stuck in a work-in-progress, trying to write the climax and resolution and doubting whether the story had enough punch. Ride With Me reminded me that when the heart is involved, the stakes are high. It doesn’t have to be asteroid-heading-for-the-orphanage level tension to have me on the edge of my seat (or mattress…I read in bed). It just has to be clear to the reader what’s at stake and what’s important to the characters.
GMC (Goals-Motivation-Conflict), anyone? Ms. Knox does it to a T. And the premise! Seriously, a cranky hermit and a school teacher riding their bikes across the country, doing their laundry at laundromats, cooking beans and rice over a camp stove? When I write it, it does not sound fascinating. When Ruthie Knox writes it, it is riveting. She drew me into a world I never expected to feel comfortable in–the biker’s world–without talking down to me or lecturing me on biker lingo. She let her characters use the lingo naturally, and she trusted me to get the gist. (I did look up panniers, but not because I couldn’t figure out what they were from context, only because I was curious if they were specific to bikes or not. They are not.) I never felt lost or bored in this new world. I was happy to go along for the ride.
And Ms. Knox’s characters…I loved Lexie and Tom. I was cheering for them from the word go. Their journey was satisfying and happy-sigh inducing, and I can say without reservation that they had to earn their HAE. No cake walk to relationship bliss for these two. No siree.
If you want to lose yourself in a contemporary romance, want to read a book that is a pitch-perfect example of a contemporary romance, or like biking, or unlikely people falling in love and figuring out how to make it work, you’ll love Ride With Me. Enjoy these lines, and pick up your copy. The ebook is very reasonably priced at just $2.99 on Amazon. Honestly, I’d have paid more for it. It was that good.
What difference did skipping the first hundred miles make when the trail was more than four thousand miles long? No difference at all, except to people who were totally inflexible or inexcusably sentimental.–Kindle Locations 129-131.
“You can call me Lexie if you like that better. A lot of my friends do.”
“Well, I’m not your friend.”
“Not yet, but you’re getting off to a smashing start.”–Kindle Locations 160-162.
In the summer of ’76, Mom and Dad and thousands of other Americans had dusted off their ten-speeds, thrown on some knee socks, and joined the cross-country party on wheels known as Bikecentennial.–Kindle Locations 308-309.
She could handle assholes. As a high school English teacher, she dealt with them on a daily basis.–Kindle Location 333.
Something about the sight of that woman with a bike between her thighs really turned his crank.–Kindle Locations 467-468.