Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden have always had a similar philosophy of life: when the going gets tough, they get going--out of town and away from the problem. Now they are both back in Last Chance, New Mexico, and trying to start over. Kaitlyn is working to reestablish a relationship with the seven-year-old daughter she left behind six months earlier. Steven is trying to prove to his family that he is not the irresponsible charmer they have always known him to be. As Kaitlyn and Steven find themselves drawn to one another, one big question keeps getting in the way: How will they learn to trust each other when they don't even trust themselves?
With emotional depth and characters who leap off the page and into the reader's psyche, Cathleen Armstrong continues to delight her readers and win new fans. Readers will be thrilled to return once more to the small town they've grown to love.
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At Home in Last Chance
By Cathleen Armstrong
RevellCopyright © 2015 Cathleen Armstrong
All rights reserved.
Pure and simple, Kaitlyn Reed hated her job. She hated getting up in the early hours of a cold, dark January morning to get there. She hated the curious to outright hostile looks of the diners she served. She hated that she didn't really have a choice about whether to work at the Dip 'n' Dine. But most of all, she hated taking orders from Juanita Sheppard.
Truth be told, she wasn't very good at taking orders from anyone. Her reputation back in Scottsdale as a creative, avant-garde hairstylist had gained her positions in some of Scottsdale's toniest salons, but those jobs never lasted long. Neither did the jobs she held after she left Scottsdale. Kaitlyn simply could not stand being told what to do, and employers always seemed to think they had to give directions. Nine times out of ten, if they had just given her five seconds, she'd have completed the task before they even mentioned it. But they'd go and bark their orders, this white-hot flare would shoot through her, and before she even realized she had said anything, she was out the door, purse and final paycheck in hand.
"Here, refill this and make the rounds." Juanita Sheppard shoved a nearly empty coffeepot into her hands. "And tables four and six need busing, too. Let's keep our eyes open, Kaitlyn, and try to stay on top of things."
Kaitlyn's eyes narrowed. True, her brother had asked Juanita to show her the ropes, but Kaitlyn was about ready to grab that rope and strangle her with it. Holding the pot in both hands, she started after Juanita, who hadn't even paused as she breezed by.
No telling what pyrotechnics the early breakfast diners at the Dip 'n' Dine might have been treated to if her brother Chris, the diner's owner, hadn't intercepted her.
"Why don't I take care of the coffee?" He took the coffeepot from her and gave her a wink. "You go ahead and clean those tables. And Kaitlyn? Try not to throw the dishes in the bin so hard you break them, okay?"
His grin lightened his words but not her temper, and after shooting one last murderous glare at Juanita, who was chatting with a customer and clearly clueless about the apocalypse she so nearly brought down upon herself, Kaitlyn ducked into the kitchen to find Carlos, her one friend and ally in this awful place.
"I just cannot deal with her one more day." Kaitlyn could almost feel steam coming from her ears. She squeezed her eyes shut as Juanita's voice reached them.
"Who? Juanita?" Carlos Montoya pulled a pan of biscuits out of the oven and straightened to look at her. "She's okay. Get's a little bossy sometimes, but you don't need to let it bother you. I don't."
"Well, you don't have to. You're in here. I'm the one she's treating like her own personal servant."
On cue, Juanita appeared at the window to the dining room. "Kaitlyn? Those tables still need busing and we have people waiting for a table. Let's save the chatting for our break, okay?"
Kaitlyn's mouth popped open on its own accord, but before she could say anything, Carlos spoke for her. "She'll be right with you, Juanita. I needed her in here for a minute. The bins are there on the counter, though, if you want to go ahead and get started."
Juanita was silenced, but only for a second. "She wasn't hired to help you, Carlos. She was hired to help me, and I need her out here."
She pursed her lips and raised her eyebrows at Kaitlyn before whirling away, leaving Kaitlyn fighting yet another flash of rage. Carlos shook his head and turned back to his biscuits.
"Take a second and cool o=. Here. Eat a biscuit. Then go on out there and bus some tables. Just do your job and let Juanita roll o= your back. I mean that." His voice took on a serious tone Kaitlyn had not heard before, and she paused in midbite. "This place doesn't belong to Juanita. It belongs to your brother. He's a good man, and if you think you owe him anything, keep the catfights out of his restaurant."
His dark eyes held hers for a long moment before she dropped her glance and took a thoughtful pull o= her biscuit. She hated it that Carlos wasn't just taking her side against the insufferable Juanita, but she had to admit he was right. She did owe Chris. Big time. If there was one person in her life who had always been there for her, it was Chris. When they were growing up, it was he who tried so hard to take the place of their always-busy parents. When she got pregnant at sixteen, it was he who stood by her decision to have the baby when everybody else told her what a bad idea that was. Seven years later, when she decided she was tired of motherhood and had dropped her daughter off like a puppy at a pound, he had taken Olivia in and given her a home. Several months after that, when Kaitlyn found herself alone and penniless and beginning to understand what a world-class idiot she had been, Chris, without a word of recrimination, brought her home and took her in too. Yep. One could say she owed her brother.
"Kaitlyn?" Juanita had appeared at the window again with a brittle smile. "Are you coming?"
Kaitlyn took a deep breath and held it before exhaling in a long slow whoosh. She smiled too and squared her shoulders. "Coming."
She stopped just before pushing her way through the door into the dining room and turned to Carlos. "For Chris."
He raised his spatula in salute. "For the boss."
If Juanita noticed her new, cooperative attitude, she certainly gave no sign. In fact, her instructions, always frequent, seemed more curt and brusque than ever. More than once during the day, Juanita had backed Chris into a corner, and from her glances in Kaitlyn's direction and the fact that she had actually lowered her voice to a near whisper, Kaitlyn could only surmise that the discussions were about her.
Chris listened as he always did. He lowered his head to better look into Juanita's face, nodded thoughtfully as she spoke, then smiled, straightened, said a few words, and put his hand on her shoulder before walking away. Whatever he said could not have been what Juanita was looking for, because she looked Kaitlyn's way, sighed, and shook her head before huffing off.
For Chris. Kaitlyn took another deep breath and held it as long as she could before slowly exhaling. For Chris. For Chris. For Chris ... and for my sweet, abandoned Livvy.
* * *
Kaitlyn wasn't sure which was more exhausting, serving tables or trying to keep from snapping back at Juanita, but by the time she climbed into the front seat of Chris's Jeep and let her head drop back against the headrest, she felt as if she never wanted to move again.
"You look beat." Chris's smile may have seemed a bit weary as he slid behind the wheel, but at least he looked as if he had a good chance of remaining upright till they got home. Kaitlyn wasn't at all sure she could if it weren't for the help of the seat belt.
"And you don't. How come?"
Chris shrugged and pulled out onto the road. "Used to it, I guess, and the place is mine. That makes a big di=erence. For some reason, I used to get a lot more tired when I worked in someone else's restaurant."
They rode in silence for a few minutes before Kaitlyn's frustration burst out again.
"But Chris, I really hate it. It's not only being on my feet all day. I'm used to that. I just can't stand working at the Dip 'n' Dine. It's not as if you really need me. You did just fine before I got here."
"Give yourself some time. It's still really new to you." Chris stopped the Jeep in front of the small brown stucco house where Olivia went every day after school. "You have to do something, Sis, and there aren't a lot of choices here in Last Chance. It's not like you can work at the beauty shop. There isn't one."
"It's called a salon. And I know that. But why can't I just stay home and take care of Olivia after school instead of Elizabeth? Wouldn't that be easier on everybody?"
Chris took a deep breath and Kaitlyn had the feeling she wasn't going to like what he had to say, when her door was yanked open and her seven-year-old daughter appeared in the opening.
"Hey! You guys are late. Hurry up and come in. Me and Miss Elizabeth want to show you something."
Kaitlyn sighed. She had hoped to just wait in the car while Chris went in and got Olivia, but it looked like that wasn't going to happen. She unsnapped her seat belt and slowly unfolded her long legs. Where in the world did this child find energy at this time of day? By the time she stood next to the Jeep, Chris had joined them, and it was with a twinge that Kaitlyn noticed it was his hand Olivia grabbed and tugged up the sidewalk.
Elizabeth Cooley was waiting on the porch. Even she looked fresher than Kaitlyn felt, and she was nearly ninety and had been riding herd on a seven-year-old for the last few hours. Chris dropped Olivia's hand to give her a hug. "Sorry we're late. I guess the time got away."
"Oh, you're not a bit late. Livvy just started watching early." Elizabeth smiled past Chris's shoulder at Kaitlyn. "Come in. How about a hot cup of tea? With the sun going down, it's really starting to get cold."
Tired as she was, Kaitlyn brightened at the suggestion. Elizabeth always seemed genuinely glad to see her, something she didn't experience from everyone she met, and spending even a little while sipping tea in Elizabeth's warm presence sounded like a great way to put her rotten day behind her.
Chris put his hand on Olivia's head and waggled it. "If you're sure you're not worn out from this one, I bet Kaitlyn could use a cup of tea. She's about done in."
"How about you?" Elizabeth was already on her way to the kitchen to put the kettle on.
"Um, I noticed smoke coming out of Sarah's chimney when we pulled up. I think I'll run down real quick and confirm some plans we made to celebrate her birthday this weekend."
"Wait! I want to show you." Olivia came from the kitchen carrying a plate on which rested the most colorful cake Kaitlyn had ever seen.
"Well, that's a cake if I've ever seen one." Chris was visibly impressed. "Don't tell me you did this all by yourself."
"Yes, I did. Well, me and Miss Elizabeth made the cake part, then she helped me put the white frosting on, but I decorated it all by myself. It's for Sarah."
"She will be amazed. I can tell that right now."
"Well, don't tell her when you go see her. It's supposed to be a surprise."
"Your secret is safe." He caressed her cheek with one hand and smiled over her head at Elizabeth. "That is indeed an amazing cake. So, I'll be back in about a half hour. Will that give you enough time for tea?"
"Plenty. But don't think you need to rush. To tell the truth, I could use a good sit-down and cup of tea, myself."
"Bet you could." Chris was already heading for the door. "See you in a few."
Kaitlyn watched the door shut. She had not said one word since Chris's Jeep had pulled up outside, and no one had even noticed. It wasn't that she was trying to give anyone the silent treatment. It just never seemed to occur to anyone that she might have something to say.
"My goodness, Kaitlyn. You must be just dead on your feet. I don't believe you've made a peep since you walked in this house. Of course, it can be hard to get a word in edgewise around here." Elizabeth rescued the cake from Olivia and motioned for Kaitlyn to follow her into the kitchen. "Let's have our tea here at the kitchen table. Tea just tastes better in the kitchen." She put the cake on the counter and turned to the stove.
Kaitlyn seated herself in the chair Elizabeth indicated, and Olivia came and stood beside her. Kaitlyn slipped her arm around her daughter and pulled her close. She smelled so good, even after a long day at school. "I liked your cake, Livvy. You used so many beautiful colors."
"Well, Miss Elizabeth showed me how I could mix some colors to make other colors. Did you know red and yellow make orange and blue and red make purple?"
"I do now. What else?"
"Well, blue and yellow make green. And just a tiny bit of red in the white frosting makes pink. But I knew that already. But if you mix them all together it makes this yucky brownish color. There. That one. We didn't use very much of that."
Kaitlyn laughed and pulled her closer in a hug. How had it escaped her that her daughter was an absolute delight? "I'm sure your teacher will love your cake."
"I didn't make it because she's my teacher. I made it because she's my friend." Olivia scraped a bit of blue icing o= the edge of the plate and popped her finger in her mouth. "She was my friend first, even before Uncle Chris. She took me out to the ranch to ride horses and everything."
"I remember. You told me all about it when we talked on the phone." Kaitlyn closed her eyes against the stab of pain she experienced every time she thought of those runaway-mom days. What could she have been thinking?
When she opened her eyes again, Elizabeth was placing a plate of cookies on the table and sitting down in the chair across from her. Kaitlyn searched her face for the familiar signs of disapproval she found in so many people she had met, not that she blamed them. They could not, even if they banded together and pooled their condemnation, think less of her than she thought of herself.
But Elizabeth just smiled and pushed the cookie plate toward her. "This is nice. I've been just dying to get you alone and have a good visit. But Chris, as much as I love that boy, just doesn't seem to want to let you out of his sight."
Kaitlyn felt her stomach sink again. Here we go. More little digs. More innuendo. She picked up a cookie and took a nibble. "Well, I guess he has his reasons."
"Hogwash. You're not going anywhere. I know that and he knows it too."
"I know it too. And I'm not going anywhere either, right, Mom?"
Olivia had climbed into her own chair at the table, and as Kaitlyn looked from one indignant face to another, she couldn't help smiling. It didn't appear Elizabeth shied away from saying exactly what she thought. So much for innuendo.
"No. Unless I'm actually run out of town, I'm not going anywhere."
"No one's going to run you out of town." The teakettle whistled, and Elizabeth got up to make the tea. "Yes, leaving Livvy here and taking o= who-knows-where was a big mistake. No one knows that better than you do. But look what came of it. Never underestimate what the Lord can do, honey. He can take the biggest mess you ever saw and make something so beautiful it can take your breath away."
Tears stung Kaitlyn's eyes. "I'm afraid I don't see anything very beautiful right now. Except you." She smiled a watery smile as she reached for her daughter's hand and gave it a squeeze.
"Give it some time. There's just a lot of healing that needs to take place. I think that's the real reason why Chris keeps you so close. He's just worried about you."
"I don't know. I've never had an entire town hate me before."
"Now, don't start feeling sorry for yourself. That's not going to help one bit. Most of this everybody-hates-me is you feeling bad about yourself and seeing blame even when it's not intended. Pshaw. If the hide of everyone in Last Chance who ever made mistakes was nailed to the barn door, you wouldn't be able to get the thing open."
"It would be really gross too." Olivia reached for another cookie.
"That it would." Elizabeth poured tea in all the cups and added a large splash of milk to Olivia's.
Kaitlyn watched her daughter stir sugar into her milky tea. Olivia could seem so grown-up sometimes. Most seven-year-olds would have been carefully excluded from conversations about their disgraced mother, but Olivia took it in stride. After all, nothing said was new to her. Kaitlyn wished with all her heart she could scoop her up and hold her tight and somehow make all the things Olivia had seen and heard and dealt with in her short seven years go away. She felt so helpless and so unworthy of such a beautiful gift.
"Hey. Where is everybody?" Kaitlyn heard the front door open and a man's voice drift in.
"Steven." Olivia heaved a sigh and downed her tea in one long drink. "I think I'll go finish my picture. I'm done here."
"Okay, honey." Elizabeth looked up and smiled as her grandson appeared in the doorway. "We're having some tea. Would you like a cup?"
"I'll skip the tea. But if you have any milk, I'll help you with the cookies."
"In the refrigerator. While you're up, put a few more cookies on the plate, would you?"
Excerpted from At Home in Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong. Copyright © 2015 Cathleen Armstrong. Excerpted by permission of Revell.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have enjoyed reading about Elizabeth, her family, and her faith. Looking forward to reading book number four in the series!
Love it I can't wait for the 4 book about Last Chance NM
Love, love, love this book. Didn't get much sleep until I finished this wonderful uplifting story.
As with the other Last Chance novels, the town is a character all its own, and the side characters live and breathe, full of quirks and strengths and foibles. A story full of depth and truth. Please don’t miss it!
If you've been reading this series you know that Kaitlyn Reed is a mess. In the last book, One More Last Chance, she abandoned her daughter at her brother's house and rode off into the sunset with her current love interest. Only to be abandoned herself by said lover. She not only had to call her brother to rescue her but she had no choice but to return to Last Chance with him. Like most small towns Last Chance residents tend to know everyone's business. That business includes Kaitlyn's story. So how does one go about repairing the damage they've caused in such a tight-knit place? Kaitlyn soon realizes that it takes time and perseverance. She decides one of the first steps is to swear off of men. But then the handsome Steven Braden crosses her path. He's also a mess of his own making. According to everyone that has an opinion these two should stay clear of each other. But sometimes contrary to popular opinion God begins to do a work in the most unlikely places. This is a great story of restoration and healing, not only from the community but from Kaitlyn and Steven themselves. Because sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself. I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
I have mixed feelings on this. I liked it, I think even more than the previous book One More Last Chance, but ultimately I wasn't wowed. I did read this in almost one sitting, really quickly, so obviously it did engross me and interest me. Kaitlyn is in the last place she thought she would be: Last Chance. After abandoning her daughter to her brother and going off, Kaitlyn is back and trying to right her wrongs. But that is not going to be as easy as she hopes. She isn't sure how to be a mother, she hates working at the diner, and everyone seems to be waiting for her to screw up again. I liked Kaitlyn. She's done making excuses, but it's still hard for her to adjust. She still has issues with her temper, and listening to people, but she's trying to be better. Kaitlyn does grow and change over the course of the book. While she doesn't completely change who she is, she does grow into a more mature version of herself. She becomes a better mother, and sister, and stops trying to compare herself to everyone else, and just be herself. Steven is also back in Last Chance. He's been getting by in life thanks to his good looks and charming nature, but that's not enough anymore. He helps his aunt and uncle on their ranch, but he can't help but be attracted to Kaitlyn, even as prickly as she is. I liked Steven as well, as he had a good guy hiding underneath, even if he didn't like to show it much. But he realized he had to grow up and mature, and so he did. The romance wasn't instant, which was nice. In fact, Steven couldn't figure out why his charms weren't working on Kaitlyn, which was humorous. I love how Olivia, Kaitlyn's daughter, was such a big part of the story. Of course, our favorite characters in the series are back, including Chris and Sarah and Miss Elizabeth. All in all, this was a good story of redemption and forgiveness--even for yourself--and had a great message. The romance was sweet without being overbearing. The characters were likable and fleshed out. This was a pretty good, quick read.
At Home in Last Chance is the third book in Armstrong’s A Place to Call Home series. Like the first two, this story is set in Last Chance, New Mexico. Kaitlyn Reed was introduced in the 2nd book, One More Last Chance, as Chris’ sister who dropped off her daughter and took off with her new boyfriend. Kaitlyn has returned to Last Chance in an effort to clean up her life and take care of her daughter. However, she finds it hard to escape her past mistakes in a town so small and seemingly judgmental. Throw in Steven Braden, charmer extraordinaire, and Kaitlyn’s task gets much more difficult. At Home in Last Chance is a story in which you can’t help but care about the characters, and Armstrong adequately avoids predictability. I don’t love the cover, mainly because it’s not at all how I picture Kaitlyn. Despite that, the story feels honest and realistic. Fans of Chris & Sarah will love seeing their story continue in this Last Chance novel. Highly recommended for fans of Contemporary Inspirational Fiction!
"Never underestimate what the Lord can do, honey. He can take the biggest mess you ever saw and make something so beautiful it can take your breath away." -Elizabeth Cooley What makes a book or series stand out from the others? For me, I know I have found a great book when it draws me in to the point of feeling like I am a part of the lives of the characters involved in the story. When I feel like I have come home. At Home in Last Chance is that kind of book. It has a simple hometown feel with characters you grow to love and want to read about again and again and that makes for a great series. At Home in a Last Chance, the third book in the series, is about Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden. We first met Kaitlyn in book two as Chris Reed's sister, the mishap misfit with a seven-year-old daughter named Olivia that she left on her brother's doorstep shortly before taking off to parts unknown. Well, Kaitlyn Reed is back! The sometimes wild, hard-to-handle and often unloved young lady is finally finding her place and it's smack dab in the middle of Last Chance! The one person that is helping her do that is Steven Braden, the town's failure and the Cooley family's outsider. Steven has a habit of running when things get tough and no one ever lets him forget it. Past choices have given him a name in Last Chance that he can't seem to shake and leaving is his only option--until he meets the infamous Kaitlyn Reed, the only person with a past shakier than his own but the one person that truly understands how he feels and what he is going through. When the two misfits come together it makes for a beautiful and sweet story that will leave you smiling. I know I was! Kaitlyn's character goes through a slow, but major, character development and I loved seeing the change take place. She started out as a wild and spoiled girl and made a smooth transition into a devoted mother of one of the sweetest little girls ever. Steven Braden is Sarah Cooley's cousin. Sarah was one of the main characters in book two. Even though Steven and Sarah are cousins and are a part of the same family, Steven has always been brushed aside when it comes to important family issues. I love that he finally started standing his ground. It bothered me to no end when his aunt Nancy Jo would exclude him so easily and I was silently rooting him on. Now, I generally find that in every book I read that at least one character worms it's way into my heart and takes root. This book, series really, was not exception. Sometimes it's the secondary characters that catch your eye and this is exactly the way it was for me with this book. Elizabeth Cooley is Steven Braden's grandmother and the patriarch of the Cooley family. She is a real treasure. She is lovable, endearing and wise. She always has the perfect advice for any given situation and everyone turns to her when they need a listening ear. I truly loved her and am so glad I got to spend time with her. I have to say that Cathleen Armstrong really hit a home run with this series. It's a sweet and satisfying read that I would recommend to everyone. If you like a cozy hometown feeling and amazing characters that stay with you you'll really love this book and entire series! Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review.
Cathleen Armstrong in her new book, “At Home in Last Chance” Book Three in the A Place To Call Home series published by Revell this time the focus is on Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden. From the back cover: What happens when the life you’re running from won’t let go of your heart? Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden have always had a similar philosophy of life: when the going gets tough, they get going–out of town and away from the problem. Now they are both back in Last Chance, New Mexico, and trying to start over. Kaitlyn is working to reestablish a relationship with the seven-year-old daughter she left behind six months earlier. Steven is trying to prove to his family that he is not the irresponsible charmer they have always known him to be. As Kaitlyn and Steven find themselves drawn to one another, one big question keeps getting in the way: How will they learn to trust each other when they don’t even trust themselves? With emotional depth and characters who leap off the page and into your heart, Cathleen Armstrong invites you to return once more to the dusty and delightful town of Last Chance. I have said it before and I say it again I just like the name of this series, “A Place To Call Home”. And the name of this place is Last Chance, New Mexico. Together they bring to mind cozy, easy places and people because when you are home there is always another chance. I want to go to New Mexico and live in Last Chance. Alas, it only exists in these wonderful books. Kaitlyn has come home to be the mother to her daughter, Olivia. She is forced to work in her brother’s diner even though she hates it there and really wants to be a hairdresser. Steve wants to show everyone he has changed. Both Steve and Kaitlyn are told to stay away from each other. However, we know that is not going to happen. Now the time has come to see if individuals really can change especially when God is involved. And then, of course, there is the romance. This book is all about family and what that really means. Steve and Kaitlyn are likable and Ms. Armstrong has a way of bringing you into the story and making the characters lives very real. I am sorry that this series is ending but I am looking forward to the next series from this very talented author. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
At Home in Last Chance was my first read by Cathleen Armstrong. I really enjoyed Ms. Armstrong’s storytelling and I have not read many books with the setting as New Mexico. She tells a story of two black sheep who have come back to figure out their lives and to make amends, intersecting in the small town of Last Chance. I really enjoyed the small town perspective in this book. Everyone knowing everyone else’s business, however I would not like to live like that. There is a romance thread throughout this book between Kaitlyn and Steven. It is not the main focus and I liked that they took their time to get know each other. This is also a story of familial love: Kaitlyn with her daughter, her brother and Steven with his family. This is the third in the series but it can be read as a standalone. I have not read the previous two, though I will be going back to read them as I really liked my visit in this book. I will keep a lookout for more of Ms. Armstrong’s stories as she tells her stories like you are a part of the town or family. My thanks to Revell for my review copy and the opinions are my own.
Spunky haircut, hip leather jacket and scarf -- the cover of Armstrong's latest novel will surely draw in Christian fiction readers who want a contemporary story and setting. AT HOME IN LAST CHANCE is the third novel to be set in this small Texas town which many, like main character Kaitlyn Reed, would classify as the last place on earth for starting a new life. But fresh starts are possible and just maybe Last Chance is a special place for those who need those starts. Despite having parents who supported her through her rough and rebellious teens, Kaitlyn has continued to mess up and now finds herself trying to reestablish a relationship with her seven year old daughter whom she recklessly left with her brother to seek personal romance and adventure. She knows she has changed, that she's found an inner maturity and a need to make amends. While her brother has given her a job at his cafe, it seems that everyone is waiting for her to make a wrong move, and the one who seems most sure it will happen is Kaitlyn herself. She finds a kindred spirit in Steven, who would classify himself as the town's recovering bad boy. While both feel an attraction to the other, and both can see the tremendous effort the other is making to begin a new, each is warned to stay away from the other. Cries of "He's bad news" or "Stay away from her; she doesn't need you" come from every direction. But like I said earlier, Last Chance is a special place, and despite the typical gossip and nosiness of small towns, there is genuine caring and when one begins to see the good in another, just maybe, one will finally see the goodness within yourself. I have not the read the first books in this series, but can tell the writer is following the series pattern of developing one person's (one couple's) story per book, while always tying the stories together. I especially liked the inter-generational plot of this book. Steven's 88 year old grandmother is the baby sitter for Kaitlyn's daughter Olivia, and it is her hospitalization that brings Steven and Kaitlyn closer. She is also the person who first sees how much both "misfits" have changed. From her aged perspective, she can clearly see that the two have plenty of time to leave the past and make a future. Final word --- This is not a romance of boy meets girl, couple falls in love, problems hit and misunderstandings abound, followed by a miserable break up and then finally a reconciliation. Rather Kaitlyn's and Steve's personal stories take center stage, and as they find themselves, they find each other. This is a much quieter story, but very affirming. I would like to thank Revell Reads for a review copy of this book. All opinions are mine.
At Home in Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong *Book Description* Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden have something in common: They both run from their problems. Only now, Kaitlyn is desperately trying to win her daughter's heart back and show her that she's here to stay. Naturally, the seven year old girl is skeptical-as is the whole town of last chance-making her try all the harder. When Stephen Braden, Elizabeth's handsome, bad boy grandson seems to think he can charm her, Kaitlyn does what she does best. Tries to ignore him and thinks he'll go away if she runs. Then with an unexpected visit from her parents, Kaitlyn feels she's not any better then before. Will people ever learn to accept her? Will she ever change for the better? Stephen Braden is disappointed to learn what his family thinks of him. Especially when the sweet, loving grandmother warns him to stay away from Kaitlyn Reed because he's too much of a charmer. Determined to prove them wrong, Steven does his best to change...but will Kaitlyn ever get close enough to see it? When an unexpected and unwelcome change occurs Stephen makes sure to take advantage of the situation by stepping up and showing his family he's not the careless charmer they think him to be. Will they ever give him the benefit of the doubt? *What I liked* This was a really sweet story. At first, I didn't like Kaitlyn very much but everyone has their imperfections and I came to love her and Stephen both. Also, I didn't read the first stories and still read right along fine. The characters were real and I found myself so much in love with Elizabeth, as if she was my grandmother instead of Stephen's. *What I didn't like* At first, I didn't really like Kaitlyn's hair on the cover, it wasn't something I'd normally pick up in Lifeway but I got over it and it fit her personality as I read along. I also couldn't stand Kaitlyn's mother acting so much above everyone else but that just means Cathleen was doing a fabulous job! *My Rating* I give At Home in Last Chance... 4 stars!! *My overall opinion* At Home in Last Chance, while part of a series, reads as a stand alone and is full of second chances, hope, and love! *I received this book from Revell, the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts were my own and I was not compensated in any other way.
At Home in Last Chance is book three in the A Place to Call Home series. It was so good to get back to this small town in New Mexico and catch up with the residents from past books. If you have not read the other books in the series, don’t worry, this book can stand alone. What I really enjoyed, having read the other two books, is seeing things from Kaitlyn Reed’s and Steven Braden’s perspectives. It was amusing to watch a scene play out and view either Kaitlyn or Steven’s frustration with the way their extended family treats them. Having read the other two books, I knew that the family members reacted to them in the manner they did because of the way both of these characters had behaved in the past. This book did a great job of showing how people can change. I honestly did not like either of these two characters when they showed up in small roles in the previous books. They had some pretty big character flaws. However, the author really did a good job of writing a story where they both grew up and became much more responsible. I ended up changing my opinions about both Kaitlyn and Steven by about halfway through the story. Along with the character growth of these two people, we see that it takes awhile for their close family to truly believe that they have changed their ways. While it may be frustrating, that is very truthful writing. The one thing that I would have really liked to have seen in this book is an epilogue. I do not want to spoil anything about the story, so I will not put details. However, an epilogue would have made the story feel a little more neatly tied up in the end for me. But, this was still a very enjoyable book. I would like to express my thanks to Revell for the complimentary copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
What I liked about this book was how you could see God slowly revealing His plan for Kaitlyn and Steven. You could see how things could work out if dreams were pursued, challenges accepted. Also like Kaitlyn's story, kind of the prodigal daughter. Cathleen did a great job of writing about how a small town would react and treat someone like Kaitlyn. She's different, doesn't fit into the mold of what a typical small town girl should be. It took me a bit longer to connect with Steven, but I eventually did and liked him and could see the goodness in him. This was not a fast-paced read, which does go with the small town feel. I didn't feel much urgency to get back to the book and see what was happening with characters, although I did want to get to the end to see how everything would work out. I struggled a bit with the fact that when we were in Kaitlyn's POV she referred to them with their full names, not as Mom and Dad, as most of us would in our heads when thinking about our parents. But that is simply a stylistic thing for me for that did distract me but might not bother others. Overall, a nice read that will pull on a mom's heart-strings as Kaitlyn wants to do the right thing, for once. This book can be read as a stand-alone. A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Back in Last Chance and all of our dear friends have shown up, especially Elizabeth, what a dear soul she is. We also have Steven the family bad boy, and Kaitlyn a woman I really didn’t like very much. Kaitlyn in the previous book, leaves her seven-year-old daughter with her brother, giving him guardianship, and rides off into the sunset with a boyfriend. What kind of mother does that? Now that she is back, it is going to take a lot to change my opinion of her. Also Steven, when he takes a shine to Kaitlyn, the whole town seems to be telling her that he is bad news. Maybe these two deserve each other, or not. Can people change? They can if they rely on God and not the evil one. There are some scary times ahead here, and I hoped for the best, and was surprised to see who was there to rally. There is one loved individual here, and whole town appears to come around and am really surprised at who really takes the lead here. Come back to Last Chance and live among the locals, enjoy the comrade feeling of being one of them, but you will be judged by your actions. I received this book through Revell Publishing Blogger Tour, and was not required to give a positive review.
Welcome back to Last Chance, a place that invites you to sit down and eat at the Dip 'N Dine, gossip with some of the locals, and visit with Elizabeth for some tea. I love the small town setting and the community feel that the author invokes throughout the story. Getting to hear from my old friends Chris and Sarah wasn't bad either. This is the third book in the series, but it does not have to be read in order (I do want to go back and read the first book, though!). At the end of book two, Chris had just picked up his sister, Kaitlyn from Florida. I really enjoyed getting to know Kaitlyn better in this book, because my opinion of her was not very high. Steven Braden is your typical handsome charmer. I loved the depth the author provided to each character. I really felt a connection with both of them as they struggled to overcome the stigmas of their past. Their relationship was not rushed or over done. It was the background story line for the book. The message of the story can be summed up in these words from Elizabeth, "Never underestimate what the Lord can do...He can take the biggest mess you ever saw and turn it into something so beautiful it can take your breath away." We have all done things we are not proud of; things we struggle to let go of in our past. The hardest thing to do is to let it go, like God does (as far as the East is from the West), and get on with our lives. Each of these characters works to overcome their pasts in the story and receive the beautiful blessing God has for them in their present and future. Overall, this was a sweet, contemporary romance with a deep message of making our messes beautiful. **I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Revell Reads blogging program in exchange for my honest review.**
It is funny how you can relate to a character in one book and not relate to the same character in another book. This is one of those cases. I really enjoyed this book, but when I went back and read my review of the previous book in this story, I didn't click with some of the same characters. Too funny. I really liked Kaitlyn and I cried when she cried and laughed when she laughed. I found her very likable and relatable. Steven exasperated me, he was trying too hard but once he got it figured out, he was a favorite for me. I loved Speed Bump. *smile* Favorite character, of course is Elizabeth the feisty grandma. A great story that gets 4.5 stars from this reviewer. This book was provided for review purposes only, no payment was received for this review.
At Home in Last Chance, book 2 in the A Place to Call Home, series by Cathleen Armstrong Revell Christian Contemporary Fiction ISBN 9780800722487 Kaitlyn Reed and Steve Braden are both the black sheep of the family. When things get tough they tend to tuck tail and run the other way. Kaitlyn is trying to make amends with her daughter she abandoned and her brother who was left with all the responsibility. She working a job she hates in order to stay close and be with her daughter. And become the mother she deserves. Steve left his brother holding the bag years ago and is still trying to make amends to his family. They have been warned by all around to stay away from each other but seem to be drawn to each other. All activity centers around family as mom and grandmother Elizabeth brings the family together. She was one of my favorite minor characters, reminding me of my own grandmother, spunky, faith filled and a true delight to all those around her. This was the sweetest little book, reminded me of the true meaning of family. If truth be told I found it to be refreshing. The characters are well developed and realistic. In fact they remind me of the small town I live in. The author Cathleen Armstrong did an outstanding job. At Home in Last Chance is book 2 in the A Place to Call Home series. It can be read as a stand alone or as part of a series. I have not read book 1, Welcome to Last Chance, but I do plan to read it in the near future and look forward to reading book 3. I want to give a high-five to the author and publisher for bringing compelling Christian books that are entertaining and give hope to the reader with stories of faith. I was provided with this book in exchange for my honest review and I am so grateful for author Cathleen Armstrong and publisher Revell for their generosity.