Sunday, August 11, 2013

Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong

book cover
Welcome to Last Chance
by Cathleen Armstrong

ISBN-13: 9780800722463
Trade Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Revell Books
Released: August 1, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Lainie Davis' car breaks down in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico, and it will cost more money than she has to repair it. But the people of Last Chance don't leave her stranded. They're interested in helping her, which is an entirely new situation for her.

She finds the people entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life for her comfort--especially since she’s trying to avoid her drug-dealing ex-boyfriend and wants to remain unnoticed. Yet surely he would never look for her in this small town.

Lainie 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 who loves to paint. 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.

My Review:
Welcome to Last Chance is a Christian general fiction novel that involves some romance. The characters were complex and acted like real people with both good and bad points, but they were also likable. I was pleased that the fictional small town was not populated by "quirky characters" but by people from varied backgrounds with realistic personality traits. It felt like this could really have happened somewhere.

The romance read like a side thread rather than the main focus. Most of the scenes didn't involve the romantic pair doing things together, and they didn't act like they expected it to be a lasting relationship. He was going to leave the town to return to his city life and felt that there were too many personality issues between them to overcome. They never really talked about a future together. Yet at the end, though the personality and where-to-live issues were never talked about or resolved, they're suddenly getting married. After making a big deal about these issues, I felt like there was a transitional scene missing where these issues were resolved.

The book covered about a year of time, so the story is a series of highlight moments and life-changing events for a number of different characters. Time frame allowed the changes in Lainie to seem natural and reasonable, but the author also left out a few transitional scenes. For example, a choir member made it clear that Lainie wasn't welcome in the choir and Lainie had no desire to join the choir. Yet the next time the choir is mentioned, Lainie is singing a solo part in the choir. I would have liked to know what changed her mind and the other person's mind.

Many of the main characters were Christians, and they're portrayed realistically with good and bad points. The few mentions of God flowed naturally from the character's beliefs. God wasn't the focus of the story, yet you could see He was at work arranging events, like the car breaking down when it did. There was a very minor amount of fake bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Link to Amazon so you can read an excerpt using Look Inside.

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