One More Last Chance
About This Book
Some things never change . . . and some things change you forever.
Sarah Cooley has come home to Last Chance, New Mexico, for one reason—because it doesn’t change. After a relationship gone bad with a man who wanted to change everything about her, Sarah is more than ready for the town whose motto may as well be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Chris Reed, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to spark some change in the little town. As the new owner of the Dip ‘n’ Dine, he’s shaking things up to draw folks from all over the Southwest into his restaurant.
As it turns out, the winds of change are blowing into Last Chance—just not in the ways that Sarah or Chris might expect.
With the same evocative writing and charming characters that won fans for her debut novel, Cathleen Armstrong invites you back to Last Chance for a heartwarming, romantic story of two people navigating the twists and turns of life in a small town.
I admit, due to my personal reality as a woman of above-average height, I have an instant dislike of short girls who steal all the tall guys. Even fictional girls. So I was biased against Sarah from the moment her height, and Chris’, were revealed.
Height notwithstanding, I had a hard time connecting with Sarah as the heroine. I was instantly in Chris’ corner and rooting for him from page one, but it was a good hundred pages or more before I began to empathize with Sarah. I think it’s because, as a character, she definitely had her walls up and wasn’t about to let anyone in—not even the reader—to see the vulnerability she was hiding behind that gruff exterior. Once she began to open up the characters in the story, however, she also finally opened up to me.
The romance wasn’t quite as developed as I would’ve liked. It was formulaic from the start—he was smitten the moment he laid eyes on her, but she instantly hated him (for reasons I never fully understood)—but I felt there could have been a lot more conflict, both internal and external, to keep them apart. Instead, Chris just sort of got busy with taking care of his niece, and Sarah just got busy welcoming the renewed attentions of a long-distance ex-boyfriend. But then, niece’s mom return, ex-boyfriend was kicked to the curb, and that was that. Chris and Sarah were together, without ever truly having to fight to be so. As a result, when the “I love you”‘s came at he end, I didn’t feel they’d really earned it.
Speaking of the long-distance ex-boyfriend, Brandon could have certainly been used for more conflict. Would someone truly as controlling as he was supposed to be have let Sarah walk away so easily? Would simply blocking his phone number and canceling a trip have been enough for Sarah to cut him out of her life for good? I don’t think so. For me, Brandon would’ve been the perfect opportunity to ratchet up the tension for a riveting third act: if Sarah finally chose Chris over Brandon, only to have Brandon come to town to make a last stand by whatever means necessary, and then Chris’ sister returns to ruin his finally-settled routine with his niece . . . well, that would give them both some major obstacles to overcome if they truly want to be together. And I don’t even mean Brandon would have to be violent, though it would certainly fit his character profile. I just don’t think Brandon would’ve taken losing so lightly.
As it was, once Chris and Sarah were together, I felt the story immediately and rather obviously shifted to setting up Kaitlyn as the heroine of the next book. Combined with my struggle to relate to Sarah in the beginning, the book had the overall effect of being strongest in the middle, when most books are usually the other way around!
I felt the “big trip for Olivia” was a promise made to the reader but not fulfilled. But knowing that Kaitlyn’s story is coming next, perhaps that fulfillment of her daughter’s dream is something we still have to look forward to.
This book did provide a glimpse of Ray and Lainie’s happily-ever-after, although the focus was noticeably on Lainie, despite the fact that Ray was Sarah’s cousin. I don’t even recall Ray having any dialogue in this book! He was mostly just talked about.
The faith element in this story was pretty light, which is always fine with me. As I’ve written before, I enjoy reading stories in which the Christians are ordinary, every day people living their ordinary, every day lives.
Cathleen Armstrong builds upon her solid debut with another sweet romance chock full of all the quirky, nosy, well-meaning characters you’d expect to find in a small Southwestern town. Old ways butt heads with new ideas as Chris and Sarah begin to build new lives, only to discover neither has left the past quite as far behind as they thought. This is a comfy, heartwarming romance with plenty of humor and spiritual insight. I am definitely eager to read more from this author, and am anxiously awaiting a return visit to Last Chance!
Available May 6, 2014 from Revell