{Review} About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

About Last Night by Ruthie KnoxThe romantic hero of About Last Night is named Neville. Oh yeah, you heard me.

For anyone who’s ever enjoyed a Harry Potter film or movie (and I sincerely hope EVERYONE has had that pleasure), this is obviously a dream come true. It doesn’t hurt that his character reminds me of my favorite YA hero, Wes from Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever.

The heroine isn’t too bad herself. Mary Catherine is a former Catholic schoolgirl with a painful history and an intense love of art. She’s trying to break into curating for The Victoria and Albert Museum in London by assisting them in putting together their new knitting exhibition. She has no credentials, but plenty of expertise and passion.

Cath sees herself as a screw-up. She doesn’t trust herself, so she can’t trust anyone else either. She tattoos herself to enumerate her many self-perceived mistakes.

It had taken four hours for the tattoo artist to inject the warning she’d devised into the soft flesh of her belly, and she’d welcomed every bite of the needle, hoping the pain would become a carapace she could use to protect herself from repeating her mistakes.

One stranger in particular fascinates her. She nicknames him City, because his clothing and his habits make her think he works in the City of London, the financial district at the center of town. She sees him in the mornings on their commute in to work and on weekend runs. She muses in her journal about him. But she never even dreams of introducing herself. In fact, it’s only after he’s rescued her from an ill-conceived night on the town that she finally tells him her name.

“I’d never heard you talk before. You ought to do it more. It’s charming.”

“People who talk to themselves at the train station are generally understood to be crazy. Especially in your country.”

“I hardly know you.”

“I’m superb,” he said. “You’re going to like me.”

She does like Nev. Hell, so do I.

He is a banker, rather against his own inclinations. He hates his job at the family bank with which his mother and older brother try to control him. He loves to paint portraits, despite a deep insecurity about his own talent. He runs and plays rugby. He is superb, so it’s no surprise that after meeting him Cath has difficulty keeping her distance. Even after falling into bed together early on, Cath attempts keep him at arms length.

No dates, she reminded herself. No emotions. Just sex. But it was hard to remember why when he was standing in front of her being all sexy and friendly and sexy.

Nev, smart man that he is, has no such reservations. He doesn’t force the issue but he is very persistent in his pursuit of a relationship. Mary Catherine has fascinated him from the beginning, and he views her with patient fascination. His undemanding methods begin to pay off as Cath slowly begins to trust him with more of herself.

However, their slow progress is interrupted before too long by Nev’s meddling mother.

She attempts to strong-arm him into getting married to an “appropriate” woman, even going so far as to set time constraints on her threats of retribution. Nev, to his credit, has never planned to go along with this manipulation. He’s unclear exactly how to circumvent her scheme until Cath has a crisis at work. In a moment of emotional confusion, he adds their problems up and brainstorms a stupid scheme to resolve them both.

This is not Nev’s finest moment. The idea requires introducing a wary, vulnerable Cath to his overtly hostile family at a time when their relationship has just begun to evolve into something new. Things begin to unravel quickly at this point. It takes an enormous amount of emotional growth to recover, especially because Cath (rightly) won’t participate in any relationship she deems unhealthy. They both have to write new narratives for themselves.

She was the heroine of the story he’d told. Tested and tried by fate, she’d emerged from every episode alive and stronger. Nev’s Mary Catherine was resilient. She was a fighter. This Cath didn’t require forgiveness, because she hadn’t sinned against anyone but herself, and she’d done the best she could.

In turn, Nev takes a hard look at who he truly is, separate from the expectations of his family. They must each transform themselves, or at least the way they perceive themselves. It takes courage, but they’re both such determined people they can’t help but succeed. Cath’s fresh perspective on Nev goads him into reassessing his life, and Nev’s viewpoint helps Cath see herself through new eyes.

Knox writes about a difficult subject with grace and insight.

Her writing sparkles while her characters jump off the pages with vitality. There was a scene with less-than-stellar decision making regard condom usage, which could be an issue for some people. It seemed a very human mistake, to my mind, if not particularly intelligent. Knox’s characters aren’t perfect, which is part of their appeal to me.

In the end, this is a story about redemption—the best kind.

FNL Character Rating: Tim Riggins hanging out with Bo

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About Last Night is an ebook original from Random House’s Loveswept line. It is currently available in ebook form (just $2.99!) only. 


Disclosure: Received for review from the publisher via Net Galley.

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