An Offer He Can't Refuse

Beginning With Baby

The Care & Feeding of Unmarried Men

Do Not Disturb

First Comes Love

Must Love Mistletoe

Not Another New Year’s

Unravel Me

Wish You Were Here

Dirty Sexy Knitting
by Christie Ridgway
(Berkley, $7.99, R)  ISBN 978-0425-22829-6
The last of the knitting trilogy, Dirty Sexy Knitting is Cassandra’s story.  Cassandra Riley grew up with a dysfunctional mother and a weak-willed father who left her when her parents divorced. She has always had issues about wanting a family and yet, really never had a family. She had a good friend, Carver, who was musician, but he is really just a friend.  Cassandra pulled together what she sees as her family in the previous two books. All three women were conceived via artificial insemination and share a father-donor. She has met her two half sisters, Juliet and Nikki. They have each met a man and fallen in love. 

Gabe Kincaid had a family once. His wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident three years ago. Gabe carries a lot of guilt, since he was the one that would have been driving if he had followed through on his promise to take his daughter to a dance class. Instead, his wife was in the car and the hit by the drunk driver killed them both. Gabe is often morose, has made several halfhearted attempts at killing himself and often winds up drunk on a barroom floor after his drinking binges. The local bar owners call Cassie and she drags him home. After all, Gabe is her friend and her landlord, owning both her house and the building which houses her her knitting shop.

The two have a relationship that was well established in the previous two books, where they are attracted but fight the attraction by bickering. They show they care by Gabe always bringing Cassie coffee she swears she doesn’t want and by Cassie always rescuing Gabe. The story opened as Gabe acted out of character. Normally he propositions Cassie in his drunken state, but on this night, he actually removes his clothes and then proceeds to pass out on her bed.  She is shaken when she realizes how much she wants to just jump in with him, and to hell with the consequences. 

Cassie also has to resolve the issue of her donor-father. He has been out of the country and she and her sisters don’t necessarily agree that it is a good idea to contact him after all this time.  But Cassie can’t let it go. She ends up meeting her two stepbrothers, who promise to share her address with their father when he returns from overseas. Then to make things interesting, there are the mysterious little things that are happening like fires and such and there is the threat of mudslides in the Malibu rainy season.

The entire story revolves around Cassie and Gabe’s love/hate, lustful/love relationship and the quest to know her family. Juliet and Nikki and their loves Noah and Jay also play a role. There is a side story about Marlys (Juliet’s ex-step daughter from a previous marriage) and the love of her life. Their story started in book two and this is the culmination of it. Other than to tie up loose ends, it didn’t seem to fit completely.

I struggled with this story a little and that kept it from receiving a higher rating. First, Gabe is very close to being too tortured of a hero. Almost suicidal and definitely depressed are not totally attractive to me. And Cassie is very enabling for much of the book.  Cassie is so crazy for love, she almost throws it all away and she is a little obsessed about the whole father thing.   Marlys was the major troublemaker in Unravel Me and it is a bit hard to buy her sudden transformation and status change. Because of her past, it makes Dean (her boyfriend) seem a little bit odd, coming back for more heartache.

On the surface, Dirty Sexy Knitting is a story of second chances and finding one’s  inner self. It is intricately enmeshed with the previous stories and I don’t think the reader will understand much of the references to the past without having read at least one of the two previous stories. But underneath it is a lot of dark emotions, a rather weak plot of suspense and a lot of sex that at times, feels like it just fills the pages.  If you have followed the series, this is readable and at times engaging, but it was a tad disappointing to me. 

--Shirley Lyons

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