Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz

cover art for Misbehaving, featuring translucent red swirls against a white background. We're gonna assume they're hard candy, okay? Because the alternative is pretty gross?
Beatriz's (almost) stress-free weekend at her sister's wedding becomes anything but when her editor begs her to review an erotic manual on the quick. Bea, sex-blogger extraordinaire, is the perfect person for the job, except for one not-so-small hitch: she lacks a partner with whom to test these fabulous positions.

Enter Ben, her sister's fiance's best friend and the reason her weekend is only almost stress-free. Five years ago, Bea propositioned Ben with less than ideal results. Ben, however, has always regretted turning Bea down, and he's not about to make that mistake again. The two of them embark on one hell of a review-a-thon, until a misunderstanding between the bride, the groom, and Bea's oh-so-helpful editor leaves them scrambling to save the wedding.

MISBEHAVING is a contemporary romcom retelling of Shakespeare's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING--which, I admit with much shame in my heart, I haven't read1. If you're in the same boat as me, though, fear not! Reisz's version requires no familiarity with the original (though I'm sure it's much richer if you have Shakespeare under your belt). The story is comedy gold any way you come to it.

Seriously, y'all, MISBEHAVING is frickin' hilarious. Every character stands ready with a wry quip or a pithy observation on something or other. Dirty one-liners abound, as do more involved set pieces that draw on the cast's well-defined relationships. Misunderstandings escalate in severity until they take on side-splitting lives of their own. Reisz has a wonderful feel for comedic timing. She keeps the jokes coming at just the right pace, with never a laugh out of place.

Plus, the phrase "fuck him/her/them/me up the butt" is a running gag. You've gotta love a book where each and every one of the characters talks about getting fucked up the butt.

(Assuming you share my rather low-brow sense of humour, that is.)

The comedic angle is a major draw, of course, but MISBEHAVING also delivers the sort of complex, interesting characters I've come to expect from Reisz. Each member of the cast has heaps to offer the discerning reader--and, for that matter, each other. At its heart, MISBEHAVING is a story about second chances; about moving past misunderstandings and circumstantial incompatibilities to forge something good with the people you care about. These characters are ready to commit themselves, not just to their various romances but to solid, exciting lives. And they want to do it together.

I should emphasize, now, that Bea and Ben are testing a sex manual, so the book is explicit and won't appeal to everyone's tastes. If you're up for lots of sex scenes, though, I highly recommend you seek this out. MISBEHAVING is a fast-paced read rife with fantastic characters, creative twists, and humour to spare. It's one of my favourite reads of 2014 to date.


While I always advocate your local library as the absolute best source for books, I recognize this may not be an option for everyone where every book is concerned, especially a digital-first title like this one. If you're in search of another way to read MISBEHAVING, you can try:

I receive a small percentage of the purchase price if you buy the book through one of the links above.

  1. I know, I know. It's one of the big ones! I should've read it by now!

    Trouble is, I had a Revelation about ten years back and decided Shakespeare was meant to be seen, not read. To this end, I vowed never to read another of his plays without first watching it performed, preferably live on stage.

    And y'know, I've never had the opportunity to see MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

    I should probably fill this lamentable gap in my life. People tell me the version with David Tennant and Catherine Tate is great, and I believe it's available on DVD...


  1. Whoa, dude! You need to make Much Ado about Nothing happen for yourself. I haven't seen the David Tennant/Catherine Tate one (yet), but my very first exposure to Shakespeare as a wee lass was the 1993 Much Ado about Nothing. It spoiled me for other Much Ados about Nothing: Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson are SO GOOD, individually and together, and Denzel Washington has never been as attractive as he is playing Don Pedro, and whatshisface from House is exactly as dopey as Claudio needs to be.

    (Dogberry's really bad though. No two ways about it. For a good Dogberry, I recommend the Joss Whedon one. Also because Amy Acker is a really good Beatrice.)

  2. My library has the Kenneth Branaugh and Emma Thompson one! Hurray!