WELCOME TO LAST CHANCE by Cathleen Armstrong

last-chanceA sweet chick lit …. oh, pardon me, women’s fiction, read.  I will have to change the name of my category, because women’s fiction sounds so much more classy and less derogatory than chick lit.

Young Lainie Davis is running away from her long time boyfriend because he seems to have gotten himself involved with drugs and druggie people.  She has no family, but does have a sort of friend in a city in Texas who has gotten her a job there, but she must be there by Sunday night.  She buys a car of uncertain reliability, and as she is driving through New Mexico, the engine light comes on.  I hate cars with engine lights.  You can’t ignore them.  I prefer cars that just make strange noises.  Then you can just turn up the radio.

Things are looking very bad out on a dark and lonely stretch of highway, and she sees a sign for Last Chance, food, gas, hotel, etc, so she takes the exit.  After another long dark drive, she is able to roll, the engine having died, into the parking lot of the only place that looks open in Last Chance, the local bar.

She inquires of the young bar tender/owner of the local motel, is told it is closed for a week, the owner being out of town,  and refuses her request to stay in the bar overnight.  So she sleeps in her car.

She meets the denizens of the tiny town, and the grandmother of the bar owner offers her a room in her house while her car is getting repaired.  But now, since she is going to miss out on that job in Texas, she has nowhere to go.  The single mother owner of the little town diner offers her a job waitressing which she takes, always claiming she will be leaving shortly.  When the ne’er-do-well teenage son of the diner owner is in a terrible car accident and is in the hospital in a town some distance away, Lainie offers to take over the diner until the owner can get back.

Meanwhile, the brother of the bar owner who was in the military is now discharged and coming back to Last Chance.  The bar owner is happy because he gave up a promising career as an artist in Taos to run the bar until his brother got home.  But, brother has decided he doesn’t want it, and shows himself to be charming, but irresponsible and undependable.

So what does the bar owner do?  Stay tuned.

It is a story about small town values, friendship, loyalty, and compassion.   It was a lovely book, warm but not sappy or overly sentimental, had a lot of interesting characters that you wish you knew in Real Life,  and some timely musing on decisions and unintended consequences.   There are a couple more in what I think is now a trilogy.  But I will pass on those.  Enough of boy meets girl,  girl is a pain in the patooty, boy rejects girl, boy and girl finally ………. never mind.



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