About Last Night

About Last Night - Ruthie Knox Chicago born Mary Catherine “Cath” Talarico lives in London, England and works as a curator’s assistant at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Specifically, she is assisting her crusty boss Judith, with an upcoming exhibit on the history of hand knitting which I was surprised to discover is rich and quite fascinating. Oddly, it is a knitted straightjacket that is the catalyst that brings the lovers in this story together. Yes, a knitted straightjacket.

Cath takes the train from suburban Greenwich to London for work everyday and people watching is a pastime that she enjoys while waiting on the train to arrive. The same folks ride the train at the same time each day and she has become very adept at guessing who will be ascending the steps to the platform at any given time. Cath has taken her hobby one step further by nicknaming the passengers according to their, um, presentation: Pigeon Man, Emo Boy, and so on. Amanda, an annoying acquaintance of Cath’s, possesses a knitted straightjacket that Cath desperately wants for the exhibit, but she has been unable to wrestle the thing from Amanda’s clutches. Cath appeals to Amanda’s competitive and narcissistic traits by offering a bet: If Cath is accurately able to guess the next three passengers arriving on the platform Amanda will hand over the coveted straightjacket. Deal! Cath proceeds to predict each person’s arrival including the intriguing contestant number three–City as Cath calls him, the tall, handsome totally captivating guy with a serious air who she has determined works as a banker in the city. I gotta tell you City would certainly catch my eye too! There is a caveat to Amanda relinquishing the straightjacket however, which involves a painful after work blind date with a dweeb. So, Cath pulls on her big girl panties and agrees–a girl does what she must to acquire a knitted straightjacket.

When Neville Chamberlain aka City finds the tiny, beguiling woman he has noticed (and fancied) during his daily runs in the park and while riding the train to work quite intoxicated on the train platform that night he does what any decent guy would do and takes her home to his flat and puts her to bed to sleep it off. Good things come in small packages and the next morning when his freshly showered house-guest, wearing one of his tee-shirts, finds Nev painting in his studio the sexual tension arcs between them like a bolt of lightning. Ruthie Knox heats things up between her protagonists quickly, it’s intense, sensual, and there is lots of fun flirting–before the hot sex! lol

Cath has a dark past littered with tragedy which she attributes to her own stupidity. As a permanent reminder of her previous poor judgement and mistakes Cath had a creative intricate tattoo permanently etched on her body. She is very secretive and difficult, a dichotomy that she internalizes as Good Cath (her present), and Bad Cath (her past). She considers her one morning stand with City a lapse in her two years of being good (and celibate) and is determined to suppress her lust for the appealing Brit. She. Will. Not. See. Him. Again. Ha! Famous last words.

The thing is they part on rather awkward terms when Nev’s absolutely horrible condescending wretch of a brother comes to call unexpectedly to find the obviously just-got-shagged couple. Cath leaves Nev’s house with her head held high, closes the door securely behind her, reinforces the wall she has built around her heart and soldiers on in her quest to be Good Cath. Nev has different plans and seeks out the intriguing woman who he desperately wants to get to know–and have, again, and again. Cath, however considers her involvement with Nev a mistake.

Leaning close to her ear, he murmured, “I promise you, whatever we are together, it’s not a mistake. It’s too good to be a mistake.”

“All right.” He took a step back. “ You know where I live. Anytime you want to drop by, you’re welcome.” He gave her a smile, slightly strained. “And I do mean anytime.”

“Don’t hold your breath, City.” The statement came out all trembly.

“If you don’t turn up, I’ll be thinking of you,” he said running his palm down her cheek. “But I’d rather you turned up.”

He winked and walked away.

Knox offers plenty of conflict in a plot that is laced with humor and tug-at-the heartstrings emotion, but what also makes this story absolutely enticing is the chase. Nev shows extraordinary patience and compassion in his quest to win the prickly, enigmatic Cath. She continuously rejects his requests for a “date” but there are late night booty calls and he slowly, and very carefully ingratiates himself into her life in the sweetest ways. He is rewarded for his efforts when she begins to share some of the mosaic of tragedy that has shaped the woman he finds himself falling for. And there is a positively delicious erotic scene staged in Nev’s office–all I can say is get out the ice water & fan cuz it’s a smoker! While Cath has a low opinion of herself, Nev sees her as strong and resilient.

Nev has his own skeletons, he is an artist who has allowed the demands of his upper class family including a manipulative mother and loathsome brother, Wesley, to shape his choices in life. As Cath rightly observes there is City the banker and Nev the (very special, absolutely sigh–worthy) artist. Cath has an engaging charm and good people sense that enables her to win over even the most fearsome of personalities, and trust me Nev’s mother–not easily won over! Yikes!

About Last Night captured my interest from it’s first page and kept me entranced through to its moving conclusion. When things get really rough between Nev and Cath, he fittingly uses his art to communicate his feelings. Knox gives readers well-drawn, memorable characters, and using vivid descriptive prose weaves them into a unique relationship driven plot that embraces a number of themes. The plot is perfectly paced and I felt the story’s very British tone added realism. This was an emotional read with very complex and conflicted protagonists but the poignant moments are tempered with rich dialogue and humor that is subtle and brilliant, laugh-out-loud fun. About Last Night is a novel to savor, a keeper for sure. ;)

Review Orginally posted at Book Lovers Inc.