How many Last Chances does a person need? Plenty, it seems, especially if you live in Last Chance, New Mexico. Chris Reed has just bought the Dip N Dine cafe in Last Chance and wants to make it something that will put Last Chance on the map (I should tell Chris right here to be careful what he wishes for . . . I drove through New Mexico a week after they changed all the state highway numbers. So even if Last Chance gets on the map, he wants to make sure the maps have the right highway numbers, or no one will be able to find the cafe). Sarah Cooley has returned to her home town to teach second grade. Sarah is totally unimpressed with Chris and resents what he's trying to do with the Dip N Dine.
Cathleen Armstrong has written a series of novels taking place in this quaint town in southern New Mexico, and this is the middle book in the series. I hadn't read the first one, but I found this one quite able to stand on its own without losing too much of the storyline. In the copy of the book I read, there is a chapter of the last book in the series and it will depend on this one to stand up, just sayin'.
Sarah and Chris started out with a rather antagonistic relationship, but after Chris's niece, Olivia, gets dropped off with Chris, Sarah begins to warm up to him. However, Sarah's ex-boyfriend,Brandon, shows up to try to reconcile with Sarah and creates havoc in his wake. Of course, seven-year-old Olivia is a dab hand at havoc, herself. Cathleen's characters have a realness about them that makes the book a decent read. Sarah is a bit wishy-washy with her relationships with Brandon and Chris, and jumps from love with one to love with the other--I didn't like her as much. Her antagonism to Chris in the beginning would be totally uncalled for, even if she doesn't like his business practices. Chris seems to know what he's doing, but has a hard time putting his foot down firmly enough at times, not that I don't understand that problem. I do. The book is a quick read and there is enough going on to captivate the reader's attention. I do wish Cathleen had included a couple of Dip N Dine's recipes--they sounded soooooooooooooo good.
Strong Four Stars
This galley copy was provided for me in exchange for my honest, yet opinionated, review by Revell Publishing, through NetGalley.com. I was not remunerated for my review.