I was given a free copy of this book by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing, in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour.
Last Chance Hero is the fourth in the Last Chance series by Cathleen Armstrong. It is fine as a stand alone and is the only one I’ve read. Last Chance is a small desert town in New Mexico whose claim to fame is chiles and a high school football team from the “Glory Days” that won 84 games over 9 years without one loss.
As summer draws to a close, two people arrive to settle into Last Chance: a new doctor, Jessica MacLeod, and the new high school football coach, Andy Ryan. Andy may be the new coach, but he was a star quarterback during part of the Glory Days. While he’s attracted to the new doctor, he’s completely taken aback that she doesn’t like football. In fact, she’s about the only person in town who doesn’t! For Jess, she’s starting off feeling like more of an outsider because she couldn’t care less about the favourite town game. Everyone Andy meets seems to expect that with him coaching the team it will be a return of the Glory Days, but after his short career in the NFL reality has set in and he knows the town is expecting too much of him and of the boys — the Glory Days are gone and he just wants the team to do their best and the town to be proud of them for doing it.
Despite getting off a bit on the wrong foot, Andy and Jessica find themselves running together in the pre-dawn hour, Andy introducing her to trails that are great for jogging. As they head back into a residential area, they meet Elizabeth Cooley whose family, Jess has already met, and she starts to feel more welcome as she becomes a part of their get-togethers. There are still trials ahead for both Andy and Jess, as his estranged father shows up, and Jess finds that, while everyone complains about having to drive all the way to San Ramon, most are a bit reluctant to chance giving up the doctor they know for the new lady doctor.
This is a light, Christian romance, where people are not shy about expressing their faith in a God who answers prayers, nor are they hopping into bed for casual sex indiscriminately. There are lots of interesting characters, like Juanita at the Dip ‘n’ Dine who is generally a bit bossy and cranky with almost everyone, Rob Ellis who played with Andy in the Glory Days and thinks his son Zach should be on the field more, and Mayor Rita who is such a dynamo that no-one is able to say “no” to her about anything, and little Emma who barely says “boo” when with her mother but bursts into tears over little things when her father is around. There’s an interesting side trip when Andy takes Jess out to see the cliff dwellings for which New Mexico is famous. Jess is touched by the faith she sees in Elizabeth and her family, and is beginning to see that God might actually be interested in the lives of humans by the end of the story, but I felt that there were a lot of loose ends left hanging when I turned the last page and much of what happened was rather predictable. However, it was an interesting story none-the-less, and anyone who likes a quick, light romance novel will find it enjoyable. * * *