Thursday, August 15, 2013

‘Welcome to Last Chance’ by Cathleen Armstrong – Book Review

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It’s summertime (even though the weather here in Michigan lately has been more Fall-like), and time for great light entertainment, book-wise. The latest book on my list that falls into that category is ‘Welcome to Last Chance’ by Cathleen Armstrong.

Here is the synopsis of this novel:

She’s learned you can’t count on anyone – but she didn’t count on landing in Last Chance.
The red warning light on her car dashboard may have driven Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico, but as she meets the people who make this one-horse town 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 – especially since she’s on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.
Yet in spite of herself, Lainie is increasingly drawn into the small-town drama and to a handsome local guy with a secret of his own. Could Lainie actually make a life in this small town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

Here is the biography of the author:

CathleenArmstrong lives in the San
Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their corgi, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico, where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. She and Ed raised three children, and when they were grown, she returned to college, earning a BA in English, and began to write. Her debut novel, Welcome to Last Chance, has already won the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction.

The most interesting aspect of this book was to see the transformation of Lainie through the love of Christ through his people. Here is an example of her mindset shortly after she arrived in Last Chance; she is referring to Elizabeth, the lady who opened her home to this stranger:

“I’m not sure how much I can pay. It took nearly everything I had to get this far.”
          “We can worry about that later. Let’s just say that for the next week or so, you’re my guest. After that, well, we’ll see.” Elizabeth led the way back to the living room, pointing out the bathroom and the kitchen as she went.
          Lainie didn’t bother to look. She had other things on her mind. Clearly, Elizabeth was a soft touch. If she could be talked out of a week’s rent that easily, what else might she come up with if she were handled just right? Lainie smiled a sweet but tragic smile when Elizabeth turned around. (pp. 32-33)

Elizabeth was a great example of how to live for the Lord, and how to view the world through God-colored glasses. She made that clear to Lainie that same first day:

Lainie knew she would feel more comfortable if Elizabeth didn’t keep dragging God into everything, but she smiled anyway and tried to answer in kind. “Well, I hope he doesn’t disappoint you this time.”
“Disappoint me? Honey, I’ve been disappointed by a lot of things in my time, but never, never, never has it been by anything God has done. Don’t you give that another thought.” (p. 33)

I also loved how Elizabeth exemplified how to right a wrong and settle a dispute:

Left in the vestibule, Lainie turned to Elizabeth. “Why did you ask her to forgive you? She was the one acting like a jerk, not you.”
Elizabeth tucked her Bible a little more securely under her arm, slung her purse over her shoulder, and led the way to her truck. “Because I was in the wrong, that’s why. I was angry and judgmental, and instead of trying to set things right, I jumped into the fight. I should have done that.”
“But Juanita started it!”
Elizabeth smiled at her. “You sound like one of my greatgrandkids. It doesn’t matter who started it. I’m only responsible for what I say and do. And I needed to ask for forgiveness.” (p. 209)

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I was not overly ‘wowed’ by it; it was a pleasant
read, but nothing out of the norm for Christian Contemporary Romance. I did enjoy the fact that it featured my favorite car, a 1966 era Ford Mustang! I would recommend it for a light summertime read at the beach or in the desert (where it’s set). I do commend Mrs. Armstrong for getting published; that’s a lofty feat in this competitive arena.

This book was published by Revell, and provided by them for review purposes. Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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