Saturday, May 17, 2014

Review: One More Last Chance

One More Last Chance
By Cathleen Armstrong
A Place to Call Home, #2
Revell, 2014


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.

My thoughts

The day the new owner of the Dip 'n' Dine tried to put line-caught trout dusted with blue cornmeal and lightly napped in a tricolor chile cream on the menu was the day his cook nearly hung up his apron for good.

These opening lines give a sense of the quirky characters and humor that you will find in the delightful One More Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong. Sometimes a story or author's style will just click with me, and that is the case here. This is not a deep or difficult story to read, but rather charming and entertaining, with good characterization and well-developed plot - a "feel good" story that often had me reading with a smile.

Cathleen's writing style flows easily across the page, she paints a vivid picture of America's rural southwest, and she has created a lively cast of characters that I want to spend time with. There's also plenty of enticing food in the small town of Last Chance, New Mexico - enchiladas and rellenos prepared by Carlos at the Dip 'n' Dine, a new recipe by Chris of chicken breast in a green mole sauce,  and steaks cooked over mesquite coals at a special place in the mountains called Papa's. Last Chance is truly a good place to come home to.

Strong characterization - both leading and secondary characters - is one of this novel's strengths. Sarah moves to Last Chance, seeking a place where things don't change, while Chris hope to bring change through his restaurant. I loved how their romance begins as friendship, although she was rude to him at first, but then quietly grows into something more. And my heart went out to both Kaitlyn and Olivia - Kaitlyn who wasn't much more than a child when she courageously gave birth to Olivia and now needs to grow up herself, and seven-year-old Olivia who struggles as the result of her unstable home environment. Watching the relational depth between Chris, his sister and niece is very moving.

"If you end the Lord's Day more tired than you began it,
you might need to rethink the way you spend it."

But it's Elizabeth, Sarah's grandmother, who is at the heart of this story. I love it when an older character is featured, and Elizabeth has an interaction and influence on almost everyone. When Sarah is initially unkind to Chris, her wisdom is quickly shown:  "The quickest way to help someone stop being a stranger is to make him feel at home."

"Change" and "chance" are key here. While we may not always enjoy change, being given a chance - especially another chance in life - is surely something we can all relate to. Characters grow in their faith, especially when it comes to letting God guide their paths. Kaitlyn has reached the place where she acknowledges her mistakes and desires to change. Cathleen has set the stage well for Kaitlyn's story in the next book, and I'm rooting for her growth, both spiritually and emotionally.

It's great to see a series set in New Mexico and readers of the first book, Welcome to Last Chance, will enjoy returning to familiar characters. This book easily stands alone, but I am eager to go back and read the previous story. I strongly recommend this heartwarming story of family and small-town life to all readers.

One More Last Chance can be purchased at Amazon, CBD, DeeperShopping, and B&N.

Cathleen Armstrong

Cathleen Armstrong is the award-winning author of Welcome to Last Chance. Though she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives.

Meet Cathleen online at, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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