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Brie's Corner

Supervillain book reviewer. Lover of secret pains and purple proses. I review over at Romance Around the Corner.

Big Boy

Big Boy - Ruthie Knox I read this short novella in one sitting, and when I was done, I went back and read it again. First time I've ever done that. Big Boy wasn't just good in terms of storytelling and overall quality; it also hit all the right buttons and resonated with me as a reader in general and for personal reasons in particular.Mandy is one of those heroines who inherited an orphan. She loves the toddler, but the situation isn't perfect, and it sure as hell isn't happy. Her life turned into the chaos that comes with a small child. There’s also pain, grief and loneliness. Motherhood wasn't something she wanted and she has to deal with frustration, fear and feelings of inadequacy.But once a month, she’s able to set her life aside and step into someone else’s shoes. Once a month she has a date with a man she met online. Once a month she wears period costumes, creates a story and lives it.She met this stranger when she joined a dating service and his peculiar profiled proved too compelling to resist: That’s when I found him. Viscount Curzon. In his profile picture, he wore a cravat and a monocle. In another one, he was Benjamin Piatt Runkle, a Civil War soldier. Under Accomplishments, he’d typed, Survived the Battle of Shiloh. His picture was tinted sepia, like a daguerreotype.But one night once a month is everything he has to offer, so what happens when reality interrupts them and Mandy begins to want more?The first thing that struck me about the story was just how clever it was. The hero’s different profiles, the stories that Mandy comes up with, their secret dates at the National Railroad Museum, everything about the setting and the characters was very ingenious.Then there’s the narrator. Romance readers tend to be allergic to first person POV’s, but the narration is such a big part of the book, that it’s impossible to imagine it being told in any other way. Ms. Knox takes full advantage of the first person, unreliable narrator, and the result is an intimate journey next to a painfully realistic heroine who feels and thinks things like this: But having a baby is like having a bad boyfriend. Josh will kiss me one minute and smack me in the face with a sharp-edged block the next. If he could talk, he’d say, I need you, Mama. I need you so bad. It wears me out, being needed.I told you before that the story deeply resonated with me in a personal way. I've been a caregiver, and I can fully sympathize with what sometimes can be an ugly mix of love, frustration and resentment. Selfishness and selflessness might be opposites, but they usually go hand in hand. Yet those feelings don’t make us bad, they make us human. And that’s the underlying theme of the book. Big Boy is erotic, romantic and smart. Everything that happens, all the encounters and each piece of inner-dialogue serves a purpose. I’m obviously emotionally invested in it, so perhaps you won’t love it as much as I did, but it’s certainly worth reading.