I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.
Flirting with Disaster is the second novel in Ruthie Knox’s Camelot series and the one she’s been calling her “stuttering hacker” book.
Katie Clark, youngest of the Clark siblings, has recently moved back home after being unceremoniously dumped by her secret husband, Levi. Levi is a jerk and I want to kick him in the same place that Henry kicks Jamie in this book. Basically, he talked Katie into going to Alaska with him and marrying him so one of them could get in-state tuition, and then when he got bored left her and took all the money. ASSHOLE.
So Katie’s back in Camelot and living rent-free with her brother Caleb and working in his security company–initially as the office manager/receptionist but with an eye to also working in the field.
Sean Owens also works for Caleb. Back in town to clean out his recently deceased mother’s home, he’s also the president of a successful internet security firm in California. We know he’s successful because he has expensive clothes and accessories (at one point it’s mentioned that he has a $10,000 watch). He also seems to hate Katie–or at least that’s what Katie thinks, as he never speaks to her. What Katie doesn’t know is that Sean’s a stutterer and when he’s unsure of himself, he stutters more. And he is extremely unsure around Katie–he’s had a crush on her since they were in high school and the hard Ks in her name are especially difficult for him.
This is, more or less, a road trip book. Katie and Sean are investigating nebulous threats against pop star Judah Pratt and are following him from gig to gig. Initially, Judah won’t tell them what’s going on but once Sean digs into the social media activity of his fans and into some of the other media coverage, they’re able to figure out that Judah is being threatened and that he’s gay.
In between trying to figure this out, Katie tries to figure out what the deal with Sean is and he tries to pretend that there is no deal–eventually, though, she gets him to open up.
This book did not make the same kind of impression on me that Knox’s other books have. It felt a bit meandering and unfocused and I had a hard time sinking into it. I just tend to have a hard time relating to contemporaries with characters who have ridiculous sums of money at their disposal and Sean is definitely in this category–it costs him nothing to give up his stake in his company at the end and it just didn’t feel realistic.
On the other hand, the stuttering did feel realistic–it’s clear that Knox did a lot of research into how stuttering works and it shows. Sean’s stuttering is consistent and it’s obvious that it’s been a major factor in his life. I liked the way his emotional state affected his ability to speak and the way he’s not magically cured at the end. I want to say that I liked his complicated relationship with his mother, even after her death, but hat would be a weird thing to like because it’s a significant source of pain in his life. I appreciated it and I appreciated that it was presented as a relationship–even when those we love are gone, we are still affected by their presence in our lives and I loved that Knox made this so clear.
This is a pretty good read but if you haven’t read any Ruthie Knox I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one–pick up Ride with Me or About Last Night if you’re interested in seeing exactly what she can do within the constraints of the contemporary romance genre.