Mary Smith has just stepped off the 9:30 bus in Last Chance, South Carolina. She's got just $5 to her name and the clothes on her back, but she's hoping to settle in and start a new life. She walks into Dot's Spot, the local bar, and hopes to find someone willing to buy her dinner. She ends up leaving with the fiddle player from the band, Clay Rhodes. They end up having a one-night-stand, and as she's sneaking out of the room, she peeks into his wallet to see what his name is...and he catches her, and thinks she's trying to steal from him. He's furious, and empties out her purse, finding two IDs, one that says Mary Smith, and one naming her as Wanda "Jane" Coblentz - her real name.
Welcome to Last Chance
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Forever; 1 edition
Publish Date: March 1, 2011
From the author's website:
Yes, our town is way off the beaten path but strange, wonderful miracles happen a lot around here.
I’ve owned the Cut ‘n Curl beauty shop for years, and I’ve seen folks come for a visit then stay for a lifetime. Take Jane—that pretty firecracker of a girl who just arrived in town. I would swear she’s running from something. She came with only five dollars in her pocket but she’s worked real hard to make a fresh start. She’s turned my son Clay’s life upside down without even realizing it.
And thank goodness for that! Every since Clay left his country western band, he’s played everything too safe. He needs to take a chance on Jane. Besides, the more he tries to keep his distance, the more he’ll realize that he and Jane are singing the same tune.
But I should quit ramblin’ and go check on Millie’s permanent wave. Next time you’re in Last Chance, be sure to swing by…we’ve got hot rollers, free coffee, and the best gossip in town.
See you soon,
Clay has a history of helping damsels in distress, and his plan to break that cycle is to get Jane back on to the bus and out of town immediately. The only problem is they're in the middle of a (light) hurricane and there's no busses. He buys her breakfast and they head over to the hardware store that Clay works at. Clay's mother stops in and ends up hiring Jane, saying it was meant to be. Clay's pissed - he's attracted to Jane and wants her gone. Jane's attracted to Clay but has decided this is her chance and she's not going to blow it by getting involved with a man; she's going to pick herself up and start her new life. What she really wants is to go to Nashville and make it big as a country music singer.
We slowly learn Jane's old life was a disaster and she's running from an old boyfriend, Woody, who owes money to the mob, and that Woody gave her a gift that the mob wants back. She's done some things in her past in order to get by, and she's ashamed of some of them, but believes she's been given a second chance in Last Chance and intends to make the most of it.
Clay meanwhile, has two ex's show up over the course of the week - his first love, who left him for someone richer, and his great love, who left him for the lead singer of Clay's country music band, The Tumbleweeds. After she left him, Clay left the Tumbleweeds and came home to Last Chance to get over her.
Clay and Jane keep crossing paths, and when Jane's troubles follow her to town, Clay doesn't know what to think or do.
My thoughts: I liked the country, folksy setting; everyone knows everyone else's business, the local sheriff is Clay's brother, the bar is where people meet in the evenings, and everyone goes to the same church.
Welcome to Last Chance has mystery - Jane's history is revealed very, very slowly throughout the book. It has humor - I loved Clay's friend Ray, his best friend from high school who'd suffered brain damage after a car accident; Ray had me in stitches. And there's romance - Jane and Clay sparked with electricity whenever they were near each other.
I was kind of "meh" on the angel portion of the story - Clay's descendants see angels, one person from each generation. Clay's father sees them and he's afraid it will be him next. He doesn't know his niece sees them.
I'll admit I was frustrated by the pacing of Jane and Clay's background stories. Because of the lack of information up front, I didn't really feel connected with their characters. Even so, I couldn't stop turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next. Welcome to Last Chance is a cute book, perfect for a vacation read.
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.