Flirting with Disaster
I am a fan of Ruthie Knox’s works. Her books are filled with characters it’s easy to care for, zingy conversations, smoking love scenes, and realistic relational conundrums. Thus I am not a whit surprised I like her latest, Flirting with Disaster, the third book in her Camelot series. This consistently entertaining series features the Clark siblings; Flirting with Disaster tells the tale of the youngest, Katie.
Katie is back in Camelot, Ohio after her husband and high school sweetheart Levi dumped her and cleaned out their bank account. In an effort to pull her out of the dumps, her big brother Caleb (the hero of the previous book, Along Came Trouble) hires her to manage his new company Camelot Security. The job does pull Katie out of her post-Levi slump but running the office is just a step toward her new and improved future. Katie’s current goal is for Caleb to promote her to agent. Caleb, however, is on the over-protective side and has little interest putting Katie in any situation where she faces any danger.
Fortunately for Katie, Judah Pratt, a famous rocker who hires Camelot Security to deal with a series of mysterious threats, takes one look at Katie and announces he’ll only hire the firm if Katie is on the job. Caleb agrees but insists Katie work with his other employee, Sean Owens. This pairing poses a problem for Katie because Sean refuses to speak to her. “Not at all, not ever, not under any circumstances.” Katie hasn’t a clue why she gets the silent treatment from Sean and the whole thing makes her crazy.
Katie makes Sean crazy. Not only is she his high-school crush and the star of many of his fantasies, she triggers the stuttering problem that plagued him for years which he, until he encounters all-grown-up Katie, has generally overcome.
Thus both of them are wound rather tightly as they head off to Louisville, where Judah is performing. When they arrive at the dive at which Judah asked they all meet, Katie demands to know how she and Sean are going to work together.
“Seriously, can you at least write me notes? Send me emails? I don’t see how this is going to work otherwise.”
She had a point. He didn’t see how it was going to work, either. How to interview Judah Pratt with Katie as a sidekick and manage not to stutter?
He’d have to improvise.
He took his phone out of his pocket and tapped out a text message. Shall we go in?
Katie’s phone chirped. She checked out the screen. “Very funny.”
She stomped across the gravel lot toward the building’s entrance, leaving him to trail along behind her, trying to keep his eyes off her ass.
When they walk in the club, Judah isn’t there. In fact, once in Louisville, they find it difficult to get Judah to talk to them. He’s not at the club and he’s booked them into a hotel far from his. Sean, determined to solve this case, books himself and Katie into the swanky hotel where Judah is staying, a hotel in which the only available room is the Atrium Suite.
This It Happened One Night set-up has been done a thousand times but Ms. Knox makes it seem fresh and hilarious. Sean’s not the only one with lust in his heart. Before they’ve even managed to eat the food Katie’s ordered up for dinner, Katie’s realizes she’s warm for Sean’s form. Their lust-o-rama is complicated by not only Sean’s inability to talk to Katie but by Judah’s apparent lust for Katie as well.
That evening, when Katie and Sean meet up with Judah, tensions are high. Judah refuses to tell Sean and Katie anything about the threats – this both mystifies and pisses off Sean. Judah does agree, however, to talk with just Katie, after the show, in his hotel room. This makes Sean so irate he does the only thing he can think of to warn off Judah and draw in Katie: He kisses her.
This was what he’d wanted to tell her earlier in the room. This.
Her energy moved into him where they touched, thighs and mouths and his palm on her bare skin, the other wrapped around the nape of her neck. The pleasure of smelling her, touching her, unhitched something essential he kept reined in, and he felt the sudden rush of it, the terrible freedom of losing control—
And that made him stop.
…When he pulled away, she made a sound, a sort of helpless squeak that said she wanted to continue, and hearing it called up a desperate ache in his chest that he immediately locked down.
Appalling, what she did to him. He wanted her. Right here, right now, with that black dress bunched up around her thighs. He wanted her anywhere, everywhere, any way he could get her.
Despite the kiss, Katie goes to Judah’s room where she realizes Judah’s just pretending to be interested in her. When she asks what he’s up to, he tells her tells her he has no idea, that he just knows she’s supposed to be there, to help him in some way.
This book has a lot going on it. Judah has a complicated life and, as he and Katie become friends, the two work to sort out the many issues in Judah’s life. Sean, who came to Camelot to settle his mother’s estate, is trying to mangage his real life in California, come to terms with his unresolved feelings about his dead mother, and solve Judah’s case. Katie is striving to move past being the enabler she was with Levi, figure out what she wants to do with her life, and navigate her relationships with her family. As all this is going on, Katie and Sean are falling for each other, even as Sean plans, when Judah’s case is over, to return home to California. Ms. Knox manages to keep all these plots clear and, even better, she weaves them together so that each storyline strengthens the others.
Flirting with Disaster is, at heart, a love story and it’s one that Ms. Knox makes sweet and sexy. The scenes between Sean and Katie are filled with wit and want. Here, Sean is asking Katie about the romance novels she loves to read.
“What do you read those books for?”
“Same reason anyone does, I guess.”
“Are they your ffantasies?”
“Some of them,” she said. “Not all.”
His hands on the steering wheel drew her eyes. He had such big hands. His nails were blunt and short and unpretty. Rough hands. Hands that had gathered her close and held her in place when he took that kiss.
“Have you ever been with a man who d-did those things to you?” His voice had turned husky and dark. “Talked dirty to you? Spanked you? Tied you up and sspent hours figuring out how many ways he could make you c-come with his tongue?”
“No.” She put as much scorn into the word as she could manage. As if scorn could protect her from the way he was turning her on. Or prevent him from knowing he was doing it.
It was no use. Sean turned to look at her, and he smiled the wickedest smile she’d ever seen. A smile that said he knew exactly what he was doing, and he’d known all along. “Sounds like the guys you’ve been with have been reading all the wrong books.”
My only complaint about the book is its rushed and rather formulaic ending. In its epilogue, Flirting with Disaster offers easy answers to pretty much everything and in doing so lessens the power of the struggles portrayed in the book. This is a book where everyone lives too happily ever after. Still, that’s a small flaw in an overall good book. I remain a fan.