They catch the same train in the morning but they never speak. She doesn’t know his name or what he does for a living but she always seeks him out in the crowd. He’s cold and polished, she is a former wild child. He belongs to a world that is foreign to her, a world of three-piece suits and high teas, a world where women do not have large tattoos marking their bodies or have criminal pasts. Her family is mobbed-up. But sometimes all you need is to be in the right place at the right time to discover that being completely wrong for each other is exactly what you were looking for all along.
What happens when two people from two very different walks of life fall head-over-heels in love with one another?
Cath is a woman who sees her troubled past as a collection of grave mistakes that she never wants to forget. She even has tattoos representing each one of those mistakes as reminders of the bad things that she has done, almost as a warning to herself of who she used to be and who she never again wants to be. She is trying to start a new life far away from her childhood home, far away from the “old Cath”, hoping that each day will bring her closer to forgiving herself for her past.
When she meets Nev their chemistry is sizzling, nothing short of fireworks, but she finds it difficult to believe that a guy like Nev could ever be truly interested in someone like her or that she could ever deserve his love, inevitably leading to her own heartbreak. She thinks that a relationship with him would be a step in the wrong direction, away from the strict path that she has set for herself. She is desperately attracted to him but she is convinced that her instincts are all backward and that she cannot trust them.
“She had to plan out her moves carefully, charting her steps, distrusting her impulses, because her impulses always led her astray. If she wanted a man, that was proof positive she should stay as far away from him as possible. Especially if she wanted him as badly as she wanted Nev.”
But Nev is not a man who gives up easily. He sees Cath as a breath of fresh air in his boring and unadventurous life. He is stuck in a job that he hates, afraid of pursuing his true passion, desperate for a reason to find himself. Cath is his catalyst for change – her courage and determination inspire Nev to go against the flow and finally take control of his life. He falls in love with her easily, effortlessly, completely, seeing her for the fighter and heroine of her own life that she really is. I loved how unafraid he is of expressing his feelings for her, even when they are not returned, and I believe that it is his patience and relentless love for her that eventually save Cath from herself. He shows Cath that “old Cath” and “new Cath” do not necessarily need to be two different people for her to find true happiness. Nev is a sum of contradictions himself, and by loving all those sides of him, she learns to love all of herself.
A beautiful portrayal of unyielding love, of self-acceptance and forgiveness of our own sins – this is a story that will melt your heart, make your legs feel like jelly at times and will leave you wondering where all the Nev Chamberlains of the world are hiding.
“Nev was the man in the parlor and the painter in his studio, the banker and the rugby player. The boyfriend who bought her prawn chips and rubbed her back when she cried. The tender lover. The caged beast who came out to play when they got naked together. He could be any of them. She’d fallen in love with all of him.”