I guess I should start this review by owning up to the fact that Tiffany Reisz put a spell on me when I read ‘The Siren’ and has since then managed to turn what appeared to be a wonderful embrace into something resembling a stranglehold. I don’t think this author is capable of writing a book or story that will fail to impress me. By the same token I know with 100% certainty that I will never be able to resist any of her words.
‘Misbehaving’ is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Since my knowledge of and familiarity with the Bard’s work is negligible, I decided to at least read a summary of the play before starting this novella. I wouldn’t say it is necessary to be aux fait with ‘Much Ado’ in order to enjoy this story, but I do think it adds to the pleasure you derive from this book.
Both the play and the book are a comedy of errors centred around two couples. In the modern version Claudia and Henry are about to get married and appear to be a match made in heaven until an unfortunate misunderstanding almost puts an end to the nuptials.
Ben and Beatriz were attracted to each other when they met in college but circumstances and Henry prevented anything from happening between them. When Ben, on his last day in college, flat out refused Beatriz’s offer of sex he broke her heart. It is a decision he still regrets five years later and not a mistake he intends to make again.
When Beatriz finds herself having to review a book on sex positions but without a partner to do the necessary research with, she has a bit of a dilemma on her hands.
“‘Fuck’ she breathed. ‘Fuck what?’ the cabdriver repeated, a smile on her face. ‘No’, Beatriz said. ‘Fuck who’. That was the question.”
When Ben is made aware of Beatriz’s conundrum he does think about it for a moment.
“‘To do Bea...or not to do Bea...?’ Ben asked himself.”
But it doesn’t take him long to realise that it really isn’t a question.
What starts out as very entertaining fun soon turns into something more, until Henry and Claudia’s problems flow into Ben and Beatriz’s reunion and it appears that not only a wedding but also the start of something beautiful has been rudely disrupted.
‘Misbehaving’ is by far the funniest book I’ve read this year. I knew Tiffany Reisz has a wicked sense of humour from her previous books, but I don’t think I’ve laughed this much over the course of 108 pages in forever.
“Sometimes I think I’m kinky because I fantasize about slapping you. And then I realize I really just want to slap you.”
The idea behind the story is ingenious. Beatriz as a reviewer of sex toys is the ultimate character (well, maybe after Nora Sutherlin of ‘Original Sinners’ fame) to be the star of an erotic story. Teaming her with Ben, who appreciates sex in all its multiple forms as much as Beatriz results in a tale that is both shamelessly sexy and laugh out loud funny – both of which are of course trademark qualities in a story by Tiffany Reisz.
“If you masturbated while reading about me masturbating I might have to masturbate while imagining you masturbating about my masturbating.”
Her characters love sex and have the most glorious sexual encounters. While some of these are off the page steamy, humour is never far away here either.
“I can’t read while you’re doing that. Your vagina has rendered me illiterate.”
“‘We can have doggie style while I’m in the doghouse, right?’ Henry asked. ‘Of course.’ ‘I might just stay in it then.’”
And for anybody who is, like me, a hardcore ‘Sinners’ fan there is a nice reference to someone who happens to be one of my favourite characters in this book; a reference that managed to put a big smile on my face.
Before the story starts we read the following words: “With apologies to the Bard.” Like I said before, I’m anything but an expert when it comes to Shakespeare. I would like to think though that the man would tell Tiffany Reisz that she has nothing to apologise for. This is a very clever, very funny, very sexy and highly entertaining retelling of a famous play. It is a well told story that works on every level.
‘Misbehaving’ is a pure delight to read and the most fun I’ve had with a book so far this year.