“No one’s going to run you out of town.” The teakettle whistled, and Elizabeth got up to make the tea. “Yes, leaving Livvy here and taking off who-knows-where was a big mistake. No one knows that better than you do. But look what came of it. Never underestimate what the Lord can do, honey. He can take the biggest mess you ever saw and make something so beautiful it can take your breath away.”
There is something so very life-like and down-to-earth about the people of Last Chance. They’re the kind of people you can’t help liking, in spite of their little idiosyncrasies and imperfections, and I think that is a large part of what made this novel so engaging for me. The lack of melodrama was also refreshing, as was the predominance of showing rather than telling. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!
This is the third book in the ‘Last Chance’ series and although it is technically a stand-alone novel much of the background for both Steven’s and Kaitlyn’s stories is found in books one and two of this series respectively.
Neither Steven nor Kaitlyn have rosy pasts and both have shown a tendency to run rather than to face up to life’s responsibilities. Steven grew up in Last Chance and has returned to his uncle and aunt’s ranch to fill in time before goes to the Law Enforcement Academy in the spring (and to decide what to do with the now derelict bar he inherited from his late father). He has a reputation as a charmer, so it comes as something of a surprise when Kaitlyn remains indifferent to his attempts at getting to know her better. But, as everyone in Last Chance knows, she’s got enough on her plate trying to mend bridges with her seven year old daughter Olivia. Perhaps his well-meaning relatives are right when they suggest Steven is not the kind of guy she needs in her life. Still, it does kind of take a man down a peg or two to hear them say it…
Becoming a single mother at the age of seventeen wasn’t part of Kaitlyn’s plan, and running off after leaving Olivia with her brother Chris wasn’t her smartest moment either. She thought she was doing the best thing for Olivia by signing her guardianship over to Chris, but now she’s back in Last Chance determined to make better choices in her life and be the mother Olivia deserves, and if that means sticking it out waitressing at her brother’s diner and ignoring a good-looking guy who’s a little too confident of his own charm then so be it.
One of the most refreshing things about this novel was that both Steven and Kaitlyn acknowledged the mistakes they had made in the past without wallowing in self-pity or self-flagellations. Rather than dwelling on the past, they are determined to move forward in a more positive direction. There was also a delightful lack of romance clichés in this novel. Yes, Steven is immediately attracted to Kaitlyn, but this attraction is not expressed frequently or in clichés, and his attempts at flirting with her are met with withering indifference. It isn’t until Kaitlyn begins to see a more genuine side to Steven emerging that she takes steps to develop a friendship with him. In the end, their relationship develops out of an emotional connection rather than a physical attraction, and those are always the most satisfying romances for me.
There was one unusual thing about this book in that there was no ‘oh-no-what’s-going-to-happen’ climax towards the end. Oddly enough, I didn’t feel its absence while I was reading the book; it only occurred to me when I started writing this review. I think the reason this novel still worked (for me, anyway) was the subtle tension that built all the way through the novel that was less to do with ‘Will they get together?’ than ‘Will they finally find the peace they are looking for and stop running?’ As the novel nears the end you begin to see all the pieces falling into place; that God has indeed been making something beautiful out of the mess they had made. But it is not until the final scene that you really think, “Yes! They’ve made it.” And on that point, I have to say the final scene in the novel was perfect for the characters and the journey they have been on. I felt like I could release a breath I hadn’t even known I was holding.
This could well become one of my favourite feel-good reads. I’ll definitely be visiting Last Chance again in the future.
Thank you to Revell Books for providing a copy of this book in return for my honest review.