August 16, 2013 7 Comments

‘WELCOME TO LAST CHANCE,’ BY CATHLEEN ARMSTRONG. Review of the 2013 contemporary fiction novel by debut author Armstrong. © Rissi JC

STORY: Long ago, Lainie Davis let go of her would-be dreams. She learns that even a mother’s love isn’t always enough; at fourteen her mother throws her out. Now, she learns the reality of love when her ex chooses his vice every time over Lainie. Lainie has enough. Packing up her meager belongings, she leaves behind Nick and LA without a backward glance. She ends up stranded in the small town of Last Chance Mexico. There, Lainie is met with warm-hearted people who would give a stranger a hug before they’d betray them. Despite being a girl who doesn’t think she has room in her life for their lifestyle, Lainie soon finds her resolve melting towards these people. But it’s only a matter of time before her past catches up to her.

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REVIEW: There is something about small town stories that stir feelings of nostalgia; this is one of the most syrupy books I’ve ever read. During at least the first half of the book, this is a panorama that is overemphasized. Despite this dimming the sincerity, I do like the people of Last Chance. These people don’t just trust Lainie with secrets, they give her access to their livelihood and what this does is play into one too many clichés. Though she isn’t easy to relate too, I also like Lainie; she develops a hard shell with good reason. She’s a character whose traits go beyond a favorite color or a bad habit and that’s interesting. Given my aversion to females who curl up in a ball and refuse to function after a break-up, I also connect with Lainie’s willingness to continue living.

I must applaud Armstrong for her intuitive smarts in rewriting the scenario on this standard. Speaking of Ray, he’s similarly intriguing as Lainie’s male counterpart. He’s a person not nearly as fleshed out as that of Lainie, though he still stands on his own; and I believe challenges her in ways no one else does.

In Welcome to Last Chance, debut author Armstrong create a nice persona in which to hone her skill and expand on its participants. True to form, there is a potentially dangerous situation that carries the climax and I’m impressed that the author doesn’t string readers along. Even if I cannot say it was the best I’ve read in this year, Cathleen Armstrong is clearly out to prove she is a name to watch. Her lead characters are dimensional and her story is “edgier” (a bar owner, tattooed characters, teen drinking) than most of her peers. This leads me to wonder what she has on the horizon.

About the Book:

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Read the disclosure page for details. If you have purchased anything through our links, thank you. We’re grateful.)

Author: Cathleen Armstrong
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: 2013
Series: A Place to Call to Home – Book 1
Find the Review Elsewhere: Amazon | Goodreads | WordPress
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org | Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of Welcome to Last Chance for reviewing purposes.

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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  • Rebeka B. August 16, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Hmmm, this sounds really interesting. Lainie's hurt sounds very relatable to me–I might pick this one up. :)

    • Rissi August 16, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      If you think you'd relate to Lainie, I think you'd find this a lovely read, Rebeka. The plot is a bit "edgier" than most contemporary Christian fiction but I thought it was a really good debut. :)

      Let me know what you think. :)

    • Rebeka B. August 17, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Whenever I get around to reading it (so many books!), I definitely will! :)

    • Rissi August 18, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      I hear you, Rebaka. So many books. So little time. :)

  • Rosie Wilson August 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I agree with you on this one, Rissi! This author is one to watch in the future. :)

    • Rissi August 21, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      Definitely! I think you had brought up the query of who book 2 would be about – I am curious as well! :)


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