Thu
May 31 2012 9:30am

First Look: Ruthie Knox’s About Last Night (June 11, 2012)

Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go...in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.
 
Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine—even her name turns him on—with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.
 
When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?

About Last Night is described as a “bad girl/good guy” romance, which is one reason I wanted to read it. But what really hooked me was how it feels like a modern-day Regency story, with a rich, aristocratic hero falling for a spirited woman possessed of a much-too-colorful family history.

Cath is a heroine that rises to the myriad challenges in her life, even while she convinces herself she’s failing miserably. One of my favorite scenes is when she decides to disagree with her formidable future mother-in-law, Evita. Cath knows it’s risky, because Evita grabs every opportunity to express her disapproval. But it’s one of those “might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb” situations, and it’s hard not to cheer when Cath goes for it.

Evita is knitting a sweater for her teenage granddaughter, and Cath, an expert on knitting, offers her thoughts, while Nev, the hero, and his father Richard watch in the background:

“It’s for Beatrice,” Evita explained. “I thought the original colors were too grown up for her. But honestly, I don’t know why I bother. It’s meant to be for Christmas, but she never wears anything I make her.”

Cath wanted to be able to offer a polite denial, but there was no point. Beatrice would certainly reject the sweater, which would be beautiful and also completely stodgy and way too English. Very much everything a thirteen-year-old girl rebelling against her family was honor-bound to reject.

“Yeah. She’ll hate it.”

There was a spark of something interesting in Evita’s green eyes then. Surprise? Admiration? Whatever it was, for an instant Cruella looked remarkably like Nev. His height, his demeanor, and his smile were all Richard, but that predatory gleam Cath so loved had come from his mother.

Huh. Come to think of it, Richard was sweet almost to a fault, whereas there was a lot of steel in his son. The realization made Cath curious whether she could forge a connection to the Dragon Lady. “You know, I’ve done some designing for the younger knitting crowd. If you want, I bet I could come up with a pattern that was more Beatrice’s style.”

Evita frowned. She looked like Nev when she did that, too. Wild. “I appreciate your willingness to help, but I’ve already put a fair amount of time into this. It will have to do for this Christmas.”

Could she say pish-tosh? She so wanted to. Instead, she said, “Come on. You’re only about twenty percent done. It’s going to take you at least thirty hours’ work to finish that, and then she’s just going to wad it up and throw it in the back of her wardrobe. It’s a complete waste of your skill.”

This time, Cath was sure she caught admiration in Evita’s cool, assessing gaze. Evita enjoyed being challenged. Like mother, like son. How hilarious that the lessons Cath had learned from one Chamberlain would apply to another.

So Cath quickly drafts a design and shows it to Evita:

Evita took one look at the sketch and wrinkled her nose. “It’s a little mature for a girl her age, don’t you think?”

“This is the style now. Half the sweaters for sale at H and M are variations on the theme.”

“No one in this family shops at places like that,” Evita said bluntly.

“I do,” Cath said, just as blunt. “They have good stuff.”

Evita frowned and pursed her lips, but Cath knew she was wavering. Time to push. “You have to choose the lesser of two evils, Evita. Either you spend dozens of hours knitting her a sweater she hates because it looks like something her grandmother would wear, or you spend ten hours knitting her something she likes because it makes her look like a tramp.”

Evita raised an eyebrow.

“What?” Cath asked. “She’s thirteen years old. Looking like a tramp is her highest aspiration in life.”

And then the most astonishing thing happened—Evita laughed. It didn’t last long, but it was a genuine laugh, and it seemed to surprise her as much as it did Cath.

“You don’t have a very high opinion of Beatrice,” Evita said.

“Oh, please. Are you trying to tell me you didn’t spend your teenage years stealing lipstick from your mother and making out with boys she didn’t approve of? I bet you were the hottest thing since sliced bread.”

Evita tsked dismissively, but she couldn’t conceal her amusement. Richard said, “Watch what you say, darling. I’m the only person in the room who knew you back then, and I could tell tales on you if I wanted to.”

“Shush, Richard,” Evita replied, her Cruella persona firmly back in place. “Honestly.” She turned her attention back to the sketch. “This looks like a very heavy piece. What weight of yarn did you have in mind?”

Got her.

I loved this story. I nearly poked a hole in my e-reader screen trying to move the pages faster. This book made me cackle out loud, and made my eyes blur with happy tears. When I was done, I wanted to call friends and ask if they’d heard any updates on how Cath and Nev were doing, as if they were real people who’d been too busy to keep in touch with me.

So, get this book. Read it and enjoy it. And let me know what you hear from Cath and Nev.

 


Donna Cummings writes humorously-ever-after romances. She can be found at www.AllAboutTheWriting.com, or talking incessantly about coffee on Twitter @BookEmDonna.

 

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6 comments
Diane DF
1. Diane DF
I too was fortunate enough to read an ARC of this book. Everyone must buy and read this book. That's an order! It's fantastic! I also felt like Cath and Nev were real. I'm going to ask Ruthie if I can adopt Cath. I kept on wanting to fly to London and take care of her. :)
Donna Cummings
2. Donna Cummings
@Diane DF -- LOL on wanting to fly to London and take care of Cath. And I hope everyone follows your order to buy this book. :)
Heloise Larou
4. Heloise
I recently read the author's debut, Ride With Me, and loved it - it was smart, funny and moving, and I was particularly of how Ruthie Knox handled the relationship between the protaginists, making it feel like two people that really are deeply in love with each other. Of course I pre-ordered About Last Night straight away and am very much looking forward to it.
Donna Cummings
5. Donna Cummings
@Heloise -- I tend to do things backwards, so I haven't read Ride With Me yet. LOL The best part is that I have it to look forward to now. :) And from your description, I have no doubt I'll love it.
Diane DF
6. Mary Jo
I also was lucky and got to read the ARC of About Last Night....LOVED it so much that I am re-reading it! Loved Ride With Me also.

Cath and Nev are fun to read ...love Bad Cath/Good Cath arguing...very funny and heartwarming, a must read.
Donna Cummings
7. Donna Cummings
@Mary Jo -- I loved the Bad Cath/Good Cath arguing too. LOL I almost used it for this post and then changed my mind. There were just too many good parts to choose from!
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