Title: Ride with Me
Author: Ruthie Knox
May Contain Spoilers
In this fun, scorching-hot eBook original romance by Ruthie Knox, a cross-country bike adventure takes a detour into unexplored passion. As readers will discover, Ride with Me is not about the bike!
When Lexie Marshall places an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly and fun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Instead, she gets Tom Geiger–a lean, sexy loner whose bad attitude threatens to spoil the adventure she’s spent years planning.
Roped into the cycling equivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn’t want to ride with a chatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn’t want to want her. Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns his crank.
Even Tom’s stubborn determination to keep Lexie at a distance can’t stop a kiss from leading to endless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where will they go next?
I have mentioned before how much I loved the Loveswept imprint of category romances. I was tickled when Random House revived the line, with plans to re-release older titles, as well as introduce new stories to the line. Ride with Me is the first original book that I have read in the Loveswept line, and I found it very true to the older books that I read and loved. It’s sexy and funny and told with breezy prose. I ate this one up very quickly.
Lexie has dreamed of biking in the TransAm for as long as she can remember. The only problem? Her riding partner on the long trek from Oregon to Virginia had to back out because of an injury. Not looking forward to the long journey by herself, Lexie puts out a few ads for a riding partner. When Tom’s sister responds without his knowledge, she poses as Tom and makes plans for Lexie and her brother to ride together. Tom is furious with her when he finds out, but his sister guilts him into at least meeting Alex. Then Tom is furious to discover that Alex is actually Lexie. One thing he doesn’t need is a woman holding him back on the ride.
I was actually afraid that the story would bore me, because I have zero interest in biking. Now, if Lexie and Tom were going to ride horses across the country, you wouldn’t have been able to keep me away. After about two pages in, though, my fears were put to rest. I loved Tom right away. He is cranky and aloof, and still stinging after discovering that his wife was cheating on him, his social skills have become decidedly rusty. Lexie, on the other hand, is bubbly and vibrant and fun to be around. Everyone loves her, and she has the ability to engage complete strangers in conversations, quickly making friends with them. Lexie and Tom couldn’t be more different, and their different personalities clash for almost the entire book. They are both strong people, which is a good thing, because Tom can be downright awful. There were a few occasions that he had me so angry with him that I wished I could grab him by the scruff of the neck and shake some sense into him.
The most compelling element of the story for me was their clashing personalities. Tom has a huge chip on his shoulder, and he keeps everyone at arms length, including his own family. He had a huge falling out with them, and only his sister is still speaking to him. He’s carrying around a lot of guilt for things that happened in the past, and he just can’t let go of it. Instead, he has withdrawn into himself, becoming gruff and taciturn. When he discovers that Lexie wasn’t entirely truthful about her gender, he clings to her deceit for a reason to keep his distance from her. Too bad for Tom that she is just as stubborn and confrontational as he is, because she doesn’t let him browbeat her.
Lexie just wants someone to camp with, so she isn’t alone at night. Tom’s rudeness is flabbergasting, so she is appalled with herself for being attracted to him. He barely speaks to her, makes cutting remarks, and is generally a pain in the butt. An ideal traveling companion he is not, and the thought of riding thousands of miles with him depresses her. She wants to have the adventure of a lifetime, and so far, her dream trip is turning out to be a dud. After some truly awful romantic entanglements, the last thing that Lexie wants is to get involved with an angry guy like Tom. He is nothing but trouble, and she knows it.
As they pedal toward the East Coast, Lexie and Tom slowly get to know each other. Tom, despite his resolve to stay as far away from Lexie as possible, is fascinated by her. Lexie is so alive, wringing every last drop of joy out of everything she does, that Tom can’t stay away. Her strength of character is hard to ignore, and he soon finds himself consumed with thoughts of her. As each mile passes by, he becomes a changed man, and that is what I enjoyed best about Ride with Me. Despite his resistance to be changed by Lexie, he is helpless to stop. She makes him want to be a better person, even though he is kicking and screaming at the thought. Lexie is like a hurricane, and he just can’t resist her.
Now, while Tom started off on page one as a cranky, cranky guy, I don’t want you to think that Lexie is perfect. She’s not. And just as she is changing Tom, he is changing her. Instead of sticking to the rules and being so rigidly in charge of every moment of every day, she learns that not living by a schedule and not planning out her day to the T isn’t really a bad thing. Some rules are fun to break, and despite her reluctance to loosen up and stop worrying about her lists and her carefully plotted route, she slowly begins to trust Tom enough to veer away from her scheduled routes. And that is what this book is really about – learning how to trust again, and learning to have faith in yourself and someone else. It is not easily won, and it is not easily given. The effort taken, though, made the final results that much sweeter.
The ending was a little too fairy tale for me, and that is really my only quibble with the story. Overall, this is a fun, steamy read that kept me engaged throughout.
Review copy provided by publisher