Tattoos and Mistakes
Hi, Delighted Reader crew!
I’m excited to be visiting today to talk about my June 11 release, About Last Night.
Shari said to talk about the tattoos, which is awesome, because I can start with an excerpt to get you familiar with my hero and heroine. This is a scene from early in the book, right after the hero, Nev, and the heroine, Cath, have had sex, oh, twelve hours after they met. We’re in Nev’s point of view—
Later, she lay on her stomach, and he stretched out beside her with one hand on her arse, studying the figures on her lower back. “Tell me about your tattoos. What do the numbers mean?”
There turned out to be four tattoos, each with its own small Copperplate numeral. The songbird came first, then a lit match, a book, and the intricate tangle on her stomach. All four images were interconnected with a matrix of lines and swirls.
“They’re my mistakes,” she said. “Each tattoo represents one of my worst mistakes. So I won’t forget.”
He traced the shape of the bird, wondering what she could have done to merit writing herself a memo on her body. “It’s a very permanent sort of reminder.”
She raised herself up slightly, catching his gaze and holding it. “They were really bad mistakes.”
She didn’t say Back off, but she told him all the same.
He tried a slightly different tack, wondering how far he could push her before she turned as fierce as she looked when she ran in the park. “What about the phoenix?” He slid one hand to her shoulder, picturing the tattoo beneath her collarbone. “It doesn’t have a number.”
Apparently this was a permissible question, as she relaxed slightly. “That one’s from when I decided to start over. You know, clean slate. No more mistakes. Phoenix rising from the ashes.” She gave him a small smile. “I was doing pretty well there for a while.”
Nev frowned, unhappy with the implication. “I’m a mistake then?”
“I don’t know yet. You have to admit, we didn’t meet under the most auspicious circumstances.”
He did have to admit it. He didn’t have to like it. And it didn’t have to matter how they’d met. She was here, wasn’t she?
Cath didn’t feel like a mistake to him. She felt like a beginning. A clean canvas, ready to be painted. A gorgeous new idea.
She lowered her face to the pillow. “I’m trying not to think about it.”
“Want me to distract you again?”
He turned her over, kissed his way down her soft stomach, and spread her legs wide with his shoulders. No doubt he’d been someone’s mistake in the past. Perhaps more than one person’s, at that. But he wasn’t hers.
He’d simply have to prove it to her.
So, as you can see, this a book with a tattooed heroine. I can’t even remember at what point in the planning process I decided that Cath would have tattoos, but it was early. I do remember that I knew what all her tattoos were before I knew what they all meant. I also remember that there were certain stereotypes about tattoos that I wanted to resist. Yes, this is a bad-girl, rich-boy romance, in a manner of speaking. But Cath is a reformed bad girl, and her tattoos aren’t a symbol of how bad she used to be. They’re not there to make Nev curl his lip and look down on her for being such a party girl.
Cath’s tattoos are a record of her mistakes. They’re deeply personal—and they’re meant to be a flashing neon sign to the reader, and to Nev, that Cath is marked by her past. Deeply, irrevocably marked. She can’t forget, and she doesn’t want to forget. She wants to remember, always, so she won’t make the mistakes again. Cath has marked herself as a reminder: Never Be Stupid.
Except, of course, she keeps being stupid about Nev. She can’t help it, because, well, he’s wonderful.
“Wonderful” is not, perhaps, the most popular thing for romance novel heroes to be these days, but there you have it. He is. And from the beginning, Nev is fascinated with Cath’s tattoos. He’s a painter, and they’re art. But more than that, he understands from the first that they mean something, and he wants to know what it is. Nev spends much of the novel trying to learn how to interpret Cath—how to unlock her—how to appreciate her. He becomes a connoisseur of Cath. And in the process, slowly but surely, she relearns how to understand and appreciate herself.
What do you think about tattoos in romance? Are they overused, or do they have their place? Do you have one, and does it mean something? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
About Last Night, coming from Loveswept (Random House), June 11, 2012!
Sure, opposites attract, but in this sexy, smart eBook original romance from Ruthie Knox, they positively combust! When a buttoned-up banker falls for a bad girl, “about last night” is just the beginning.
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?
Preorder/order links — only $2.99, releases June 11
Ruthie Knox figured out how to walk and read at the same time in the second grade, and she hasn’t looked up since. She spent her formative years hiding romance novels in her bedroom closet to avoid the merciless teasing of her brothers and imagining scenarios in which someone who looked remarkably like Daniel Day Lewis recognized her well-hidden sex appeal and rescued her from middle-class Midwestern obscurity. After graduating from Grinnell College with an English and history double major, she earned a Ph.D. in modern British history that she’s put to remarkably little use. These days, she writes contemporary romance in which witty, down-to- earth characters find each other irresistible in their pajamas, though she freely admits this has yet to happen to her. Perhaps she needs more exciting pajamas. Her debut novel, Ride with Me, came out with Loveswept (Random House) in February.
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