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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong (Book Review)

Title: Welcome to Last Chance
Author: Cathleen Armstrong
Publisher: Revell Books

About the book: The red warning light on her car dashboard drove Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico. But as she encounters the people who make Last Chance their home, it’s her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life for Lainie’s comfort-especially since she’s on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie finds that she is increasingly drawn in to the dramas of small town life. An old church lady who always has room for a stranger. A handsome bartender with a secret life. A single mom running her diner and worrying over her teenage son. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little hick town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

Cathleen Armstrong pens a debut novel filled with complex, lovable characters making their way through life and relationships the best they can. Her evocative descriptions, observational humor, and talent at rendering romantic scenes will earn her many fans.

 
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My thoughts: I really liked the way this book started out, with Lainie dragging into Last Chance in a car that dies in the first parking lot in town.  For the first few days, she doesn't know whether she is having good luck or bad luck with the things that are happening.  Before she can blink, though, she has a place to stay and a job - just no car. 

She has been on her own for so long that she doesn't recognize it when someone cares about her and is not just ordering her around.  She has had her fill of being ordered around, but because of situations in her past, can't quite feel comfortable anywhere.  She is afraid that her ex is going to come looking for her, and she can't let him find her.

I loved Lainie.  When she discovered that she was in a situation that she didn't like - rather than staying to try to change her boyfriend - she packed up and left.  Something I think not a lot of young girls would do.  Especially ones that didn't have anywhere else they could call home.  When she arrived in Last Chance, she was cautious, but she was not afraid of work.  She was a good person who had just not had a perfect life.

Like the people of Last Chance, this book was warm and welcoming and presented the gospel in a very laid back way.  For them it was just a fact of life - something they lived every day.  They did not need to rub your face in it.   Now don't get me wrong - Last Chance had some characters that weren't living the life they should, and even had some Christians whose heart was in the right place even if what came out of their mouths sometimes wasn't.

I thought it was a very strong debut novel and will happily read whatever Cathleen Armstrong comes out with next.
 
~I received a complimentary copy of Welcome to Last Chance from Revell Blog Tours in exchange for my unbiased review.~

 
About the author: Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico, where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. Her debut novel, Welcome to Last Chance, has already won the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women's Fiction.
 

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