Wednesday 24 July 2013

#CBR5 Book 99. "About Last Night" by Ruthie Knox

Page count: 230 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Cath Talarico is a Chicago girl trying to make a new life for herself in London She has made several big mistakes in her life, but for the past two years, she's been working her ass of, being New Cath, who stays out of trouble, never does anything wild and crazy, and works diligently on an exhibition at the V&A, hoping to earn herself an assistant curatorship, despite the fact that she has no formal qualifications. Her life is so predictable that she can tell tell exactly which of the many commuters she shares a train with every morning, will show up at what time.

After a disastrous blind date (that Cath only agreed to in the hopes of securing a particular item for the upcoming exhibition), wakes up in a strange flat, and vaguely remembers being taken home by the man she only thinks of as City - one of her fellow commuters, always impeccably dressed in a three piece suit, who clearly works in the financial district, probably as a banker. She remembers enough that she knows she wasn't taken advantage of in any way, and is touched when she discovers he's left a new toothbrush and a clean towel out for her. When she's freshened up, she discovers that City, who is indeed a banker, in reality called Nev Chamberlain (yes, after the Prime Minister), also paints, and may not be the elitist rich guy she imagined him.

Nev works in the family's bank, but is absolutely miserable doing so. His older brother presents him with an ultimatum from their autocratic mother. Nev will get a lucrative promotion in the bank, but only if he agrees to get married to some suitable young lady. His family are frankly appalled that he's moved away from their sphere of influence, and is trying to express himself through paintings. He's just as attracted to Cath as she is to him, and soon they're conducting a passionate love affair, even though Cath refuses to tell him where she lives, or what she does for a living, and staunchly refuses to let him take her on any real dates. She has four tattoos on her back, as permanent reminders of the past mistakes she has made, but guards her secrets and will only occasionally let something significant about herself slip.

It's quite clear that Nev and Cath are complete opposites, and with Cath's previous experiences, she is very wary of new commitment. She's an artist with a dark and troubled past, and more trust issues than you can count. Nev is from a rich and privileged background, and pretty much hates his life, but is too unsure of his own abilities as an artist to break out of the life his family's expectations has made for him. Can the two of them ever actually make it work?

About Last Night was one of this year's RITA finalists for contemporary romance. I'd seen it favourably reviewed in a few places, but when a friend mentioned that knitting played a central part in the plot that I became really curious about reading it. It's a quick and very enjoyable read. The sexy parts are very steamy indeed, but that wouldn't have mattered if I didn't believe the chemistry between the characters, and their developing relationship. It's obvious from how different the characters are that their backgrounds and emotional baggage are going to lead to some form of conflict, but I was especially impressed with how that conflict both played out, and was resolved. Cath is an understandably damaged and cautious heroine. Nev is a great hero. He makes mistakes, but works hard to make up for them as well. There is absolutely a fair bit of angst in this book, but unsurprisingly, what with this being a romance, it all works out well in the end, in a satisfying and fairly realistic way, considering the genre. Well recommended.

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