Baker Publishing Group|August 1 2013| Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-8007-2246-3
The red warning light on her car dashboard drove Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico. But as she encounters the people who make Last Chance their home, it’s her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life for Lainie’s comfort – especially since she’s on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.
Yet in spite of herself, Lainie finds that she is increasingly drawn in to the dramas of small town life. An old church lady who always has room for a stranger. A handsome bartender with a secret life. A single mom running her diner and worrying over her teenage son. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little hick town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?
Cathleen Armstrong pens a debut novel filled with complex, lovable characters making their way through life and relationships the best they can. Her evocative descriptions, observational humor, and talent at rendering romantic scenes will earn her many fans.
Lainie Davis was running away from Long Beach and away from her friend, Nick and his crazy world of drugs and dealers. That whole life was turning him into a “frightening stranger.”
Driving for three days now, Lainie was getting tired. Around midnight a warning light of some type began flashing on the dashboard of her car. She didn’t want her car breaking down now with only two-hundred miles left to her destination of El Paso, and she’d be there by morning if her car held up just a little bit longer. But, it was not to be – Lainie’s car broke down in Last Chance, New Mexico. The sign said there were only 743 people in this town.
Once out of her vehicle, Lainie realized she was in front of a bar called the “High Lonesome Saloon” and the good thing was that the open sign was still lit in the window. When she entered there were only the bartender and one customer seated. The bartender greeted her but informed her it was only 15 minutes to closing time so Lainie just asked for a cold soda. She explained to the man her car had broken down and was now sitting in the middle of his parking lot and if he wanted it moved he’d have to help her push it. The man told her not to worry about it for overnight and that in the morning “Manny from Otero Gas and Oil” could give her a hand with it. He informed her that Manny opened around eight, so she asked where she could stay until then.
The bartender informed her there was only one motel in town and it was closed as the owner was away until Friday. So Lainie had no choice but to sleep in her car until morning, not something she really wanted to do but had no choice. She grabbed a pillow, hunkered down and fell to sleep.
When Lainie woke up the sun was finally up too which relieved her anxiety. Across the road she saw a Dip ‘n’ Sip and decided she needed coffee.
When she entered the restaurant, the waitress said: “Honey, you didn’t sleep in that car did you?” Lainie asked if there was somewhere she could freshen up and the waitress did her one better by providing her with a place to shower in the back. Lainie was so grateful. Nothing felt so good as that shower, she felt like a brand new woman. She pulled clean clothing from her backpack and although a little wrinkled, served the need just perfectly.
As she searched in her backpack, she felt a bulge in the lining and yanked the bag open wide, she held it to the light and discovered a slit just wider than her hand cut under the zipper. Her fingers felt numb as she worked her hand through the slit and down the side of the pack. She knew what she had before she pulled the plastic bag of crystals into the light.
One of Nick’s friends had bragged and shown him a similar bag in their living room and told him what they could get for it once it hit the street. She and Nick argued after he left and Nick promised he’d never see those friends again, and the day came Lainie came home to see them pulling away from the curb, she knew she had to leave. She had put nearly a thousand miles between her and Nick, but when she pulled the drugs from her backpack, it was if he had shoved his way into the room too. Her dream of letting him go, of moving on, was over. Nick would already be looking for her, and he didn’t give up. Her hand was shaking as she shoved the plastic bag back behind the lining again, way down this time, clear to the bottom. Somehow she needed to get rid of the drugs but she’d figure that out later. The waitress would soon check up on her if she didn’t get back out there.
Fayette, the waitress gave Lainie a smile. She climbed up onto a stool at the counter and perused the menu. She had a biscuit and coffee. Fayette insisted she also have eggs and sausage and Lainie gave in, agreeing with her.
Lainie inquired to Fayette about the best possible way to get out of Last Chance as she really had to get to El Paso today. Fayette informed her there was a bus that went straight through San Ramon two or three times a day it was about 20 miles from there, but someone was always heading up there and she could try and find someone to give her a ride. If that failed, Fayette said she could take her up herself after the restaurant closed. But the only bus leaving that late wasn’t until nearly midnight which would get her into El Paso at 2:30 in the morning.
Lainie went to make a phone call to her friend, Lindsay to see if she could pick her up at the other end. Lindsay then informed Lainie that Nick had phoned her and seemed pretty sure he’d find her there. Lainie was panicked and asked what she’d told him. Lindsay said tht she told him she hadn’t heard from Lainie in months, but wasn’t totally sure he’d bought it. Lainie told Lindsay that she’d better not come then for awhile. Lainie instructed Lindsay that if Nick was to contact her again, NOT to tell him she had spoken to her. “Just say you never heard from me.”
Lainie sat down with her hands covering her face on her backpack when she felt Fayette put her hand on her shoulder asking if she was alright. Lainie returned to the restaurant, at her sausage and eggs with some green chile for the eggs.
What is poor Lainie going to do now? How will she get to El Paso Will she even get to El Pas or will she stay and try to put down roots in Last Chance?
Welcome to Last Chance was a phenomenal debut novel! Well-written with a great story line. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”