ARC review: Madly by Ruthie Knox

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Allie Fredericks is supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ anniversary party, but her mom just… disappeared. Allie found her in a Manhattan bar with a man who is certainly not her husband, and now she feels obligated to bring her back home and save their family.

Winston Chamberlain didn’t expect, upon walking into the bar, to be swept up in Allie’s messy world, but he can hardly say no when he realizes how much fun she is. As the night goes on, the two have a hard time saying goodbye. They’re such opposites, but maybe they can make something real out of this chance connection.

A couple years ago, I read Ruthie Knox’s Truly, and I literally stayed up until like 4am to finish it. I remember going to work the next day completely bleary-eyed and exhausted, but not regretting a single second of it because that book was seriously good. So when I saw Knox’s Madly pop up on Netgalley, I immediately requested. I was not disappointed.

One of the things I loved about Truly was the Wisconsinite-on-the-East-Coast vibe. That’s alive and well here in Madly since this time, we’re following May’s younger sister, Allie. I loved all the shoutouts to my home state. I loved that Allie isn’t from a big city like Madison or Milwaukee, she’s from Manitowoc!

My only experience with Manitowoc was in the olden days of 2007 when I had a brand new drivers license and my mom sent me up to Wausau from Fond du Lac to visit my grandma. Highway 45 was closed for construction, and I tried to pull out my old-fashioned paper map (since GPS wasn’t as ubiquitous then as it is now), but since I have no sense of direct, I evidently turned east instead of west and ended up in Manitowoc! It was really traumatizing, but I survived. And anyway, that’s my one and only Manitowoc experience. (You’d probably have to pull up Google Maps if you’re not from the area in order to understand how ridiculous this whole scenario was.) Every time Allie mentioned her hometown, it sent me straight back to 2007.

Anyway, Allie and Winston were both really great characters. I was a little worried at first that their relationship was going to start off as a weird drunken hookup while Allie was all sad and vulnerable about her mom running away, but their relationship was actually super cute. They fit together really well, and even though everything happened over a few days, it seemed like it progressed really naturally. I was not bothered at all by the ~15 year age difference, and I loved that Winston was always a gentleman and Allie was a strong, independent, business-savvy woman.

I have to say, I might have loved May and Ben in Truly (and I really did, I have them four stars), but their relationship seemed to be lacking a little in comparison with Allie and Winston. I don’t know if Ruthie Knox’s writing has improved, or if my tastes have changed, but I just really loved Allie and Winston’s relationship. I loved their list and how even though they made the list together, they never pressured each other to cross things off, and the things that they were trying to cross off didn’t always work right away, but they never got mad or impatient with each other.

I liked Winston’s daughter, Bea, and I especially liked that he didn’t pressure her into acting a certain way to appease him. He might be a prim and proper London guy who walks around in expensive suits and silk socks and lives in a really fancy apartment, but he’s totally okay with Bea wearing ripped overalls, walking around covered in paint, with multicolored hair, living in a crappy apartment with too many friends, as long as that makes her happy. I also liked that Bea didn’t create any drama within Winston’s new relationship and actually encouraged it because she wanted her dad to be happy.

This book was honestly close enough to perfect that I cannot give it any less than five stars!

Final rating: ★★★★★

Thank you to Netgalley and Loveswept for the ARC!