Last Chance Knit & Stitch
Forever / November 19, 2013 / $8.00 print, $7.99 digital
Molly Canaday wishes she could repair her life as easily as she fixes cars. She was all set to open her own body shop in Last Chance when her mother ran off and left her to manage the family yarn shop instead. Now guided by the unsolicited-though well-intended-advice of the weekly knitting club, Molly works to untangle this mess. But her plan unravels when the new landlord turns out to be difficult-as well as tall, dark, and handsome.
Simon Wolfe returns to quickly settle his father's estate and then leave Last Chance for good. Still wounded by a broken heart, Simon is surprised when the town's charming streets and gentle spirit bring back good memories. Soon the beautiful, strong-willed Molly sparks a powerful attraction that tempts him to break his iron-clad no-commitment rule. Can Simon and Molly find a way to share work space-and build a future together in Last Chance?
Hope Ramsay's Last Chance Knit & Stitch shoots out of the starting gate when the fiercely independent Molly Canaday discovers that her mother has all-caps HAD.ENOUGH. THANK.YOU. Frustrated by years of benign neglect at the hands of her husband, the much revered Coach Canaday—the anniversary gift of a brand-new washing machine and clothes dryer is only the final straw—Mrs. Pat Canaday waits until Coach is out of town on his annual two-week fishing vacation, then clandestinely books herself a long vacation to see the world. She leaves a note indicating that Molly is now in charge of the family home—“You’re going to have to learn how to cook,” she advises—and that Molly is also expected to keep her thriving yarn store, the Knit & Stitch, going.
Trouble is, while Molly loves knitting, she has absolutely no interest in running a knitting store; she’s too busy lovingly restoring vintage cars alongside her best friend, Les, and working as a mechanic in the local auto shop. But the women of Last Chance, South Carolina are desperate for decent yarn, and Molly finds herself drawn in, despite her best intentions.
She quickly tangles with Simon Wolfe, a successful artist who is in town to bury his father and that’s it. His mother no longer recognizes him, and he is haunted by the events of a terrible night nearly thirty years ago when his own inaction led to a terrible tragedy. He does have happy memories of playing football under Coach Canaday when, as a seventeen-year-old place kicker, he used to rub four-year-old Molly’s head for luck before every kick.
In his romantic life, Simon adheres to a strict “no commitment” policy. Molly understands this and is fine with it—she’s not particularly interested in marriage or family either. Neither one has counted on their feelings for the other...but there are, of course, obstacles.
The biggest obstacle, and the most interesting part of the book, involves heavy parental disapproval. Simon’s parents wanted him to be a doctor and basically disowned him when he abandoned medicine in favor of his art. Molly’s parents have spent their lives trying to convince her to be the perfect daughter, from disapproving of her choice of career to—without her consent—painting her bedroom a despised shade of Pepto-Bismol pink. Simon’s mother variously thinks he’s the chauffeur, an assistant, or a thief. Molly’s father wants her—loudly wants her—to leave off this auto mechanic silliness, settle down with Les already, and start pumping out babies. Coach also detests Simon for a potpourri of reasons: Simon is too old, Simon is too gay (hey, he’s a long-haired, well-dressed artist type from California!) Simon left town and broke his parents’ hearts. But both Molly and Simon assert their right to live their lives on their own terms, and watching the fallout from their choices—both the good and the bad—is always compelling.
Without giving too much away, there are direct, obvious, and apparently deliberate parallels with Little Women, which the Last Chance Book Club reads immediately after a disastrous foray into Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (“Frankly someone should have edited it. It was boring.”) Molly is a modern Jo March, right down to the burning desire for independence and eventual HEA (including a romantic kiss under an umbrella!) with an older man.
It’s also worth noting that the book is hilarious. Whether Molly’s hapless clerk Ricki is meditating on the twists and turns her life has recently taken (“Great. She was turning into a lonely old spinster with a gender-confused boss and a dog with a crush on a gay man. And now she was taking up knitting.”) or Simon’s assistant Angel is insinuating himself into the circle of Last Chance gossips—it turns out that everyone thinks that Simon and Angel are lovers and Les and Molly are practically engaged, and that’s only the beginning—the book is consistently witty and engaging. Pat Canaday’s flight sets in motion a chain of events, some altogether unexpected; jobs are lost, secret passions are declared, at least one unlikely couple hooks up, and there’s at least one instance of (sort of) grand theft auto. Oh, and there’s an adorable orphan dog who finds a new home through the good offices of a ghost. As happens.
Apparently this is the latest in a series of novels about the denizens of Last Chance, and a number of minor characters were protagonists in previous installments. I’m not sure how I missed this series, but Hope Ramsay is going on my auto-read list for sure. Last Chance Knit & Stitch may be my first Last Chance book, but it won’t be my last.
Learn more or order a copy of Last Chance Knit & Stitch by Hope Ramsay, available November 19, 2013:
Kate Nagy is Editor at Large of Geek Speak Magazine.