"Matilda Goodnight stepped back from her latest mural and realized that of all the crimes she'd committed in her thirty-four years, painting the floor-to-ceiling reproduction of van Gogh's sunflowers on Clarissa Donnelly's dining room wall was the one that was going to send her to hell."
Matilda Goodnight has many problems and all of them start and end with her family. Her father, now thankfully deceased, played fast and loose with the reputation of the Goodnight Art Gallery. As his parting gift, he left them all with a giant mortgage and practically no money. Tilda's mother Gwen is completely miserable. Trapped by the gallery, Gwen spends most of her time working double-crostic puzzles and splashing a little too much vodka into her orange-pineapple juice. Tilda's sister Eve is a single mother whose ex-husband Andrew still lives in the Goodnight building, along with the love of his life, Jeff. Four nights a week, Eve lets loose by transforming herself into Louise, a sultry singer of dubious morals who performs at Andrew's nightclub. Tilda is the glue that holds the Goodnights together. She's sacrificed her artistic talent painting mural reproductions all over Ohio and Kentucky in order to make the payments on the mortgage. When trouble threatens the Goodnights, Tilda will do whatever it takes to make things right - even when what it takes is breaking into a neighbor's house to steal back a painting that never should have been sold.
Davy Dempsey has his own problematic family. Dear Old Dad (who's currently on the lam, dodging a fraud charge) raised all three of his children to be masters of the con. Much to Michael Dempsey's chagrin, his two daughters have turned out to be respectable, law-abiding citizens. Davy's older sister had the skill, but not the heart, to be a world class con artist. His younger sister had the heart, but not the skill. Now Davy, well Davy has skill and nerve and heart and plenty of imagination. He spent the first thirty years of his life defrauding the amoral and the downright criminal - in other words, those in no position to send the law after him. For the past three years (ever since he took Clea Whipple, now Clea Lewis, for a million dollars), Davy has been living life on the straight and narrow. His only contact with the game comes from occasionally consulting work for the FBI as a fraud expert. All that may have to change as the sociopathic Clea has managed to steal all of his money - not just her original million, but the two million more Davy has made through smart investing.
Davy's determined to recover his money, which is how he ends up meeting Tilda Goodnight in a closet. They're both breaking into the same house. Despite such an awkward introduction, Tilda and Davy decide to join forces and work together to take back what's theirs. And as they struggle to keep secrets from one another, Tilda and Davy will learn it's as impossible to turn your back on who you really are as it is to ignore the person you are truly meant to love.
Davy Dempsey was originally a secondary character in Ms. Crusie's novel Welcome to Temptation and I, for one, am delighted to see the charming con artist take center stage here. I love all of Ms. Crusie's novels but this book, along with Bet Me, is one of my two favorites. Everything is perfectly balanced, including a devious plot, fabulous characters and wonderful, witty dialogue. Honestly, I don't see how anyone with a sense of humor and a soft spot for happy endings could read this book and not adore it.