I'll admit, if a book does not totally grab me in the first few pages, then I am done. I like a good romance that I can sigh over and feel good while I'm reading it. "The Last Chance Cafe" did not grab me in those precious first few pages but I trudged on and boy am I glad I did!
Hallie O'Rourke, divorced mother of twin seven-year old girls is on the run. After the funeral of her beloved step-father, an ex-cop, she finds his secret files about the corruption that is going on in the local police department. When Hallie finds these, her creepy ex-husband shows up and demands that she hand it over to him. In a fit of panic, she runs. Literally. This was where my first problem was: how could a woman (and she not described as a marathon runner or being overly fit) grab the contents of the cash box, AND her twin girls, AND run to a pick up truck that is on the back of her step-father's property without being caught by this large man? It just didn't feel right as I read it. I mean, it would almost have to be comical with him running on a rake and it hitting him in the face - as it turns out, he gets caught in the clothes line. Okay...I GUESS it could happen but at that point I wasn't sure if I could continue. But I did and it got so much better!
Hallie's truck breaks down in a blizzard and she and her girls take refuge in the Last Chance Cafe. It's pretty much your side-of-the-road, small-town diner with all of the characters that go with it but within it Hallie meets Chance Qualtrough. He's a local cowboy who everyone knows and loves and he helps Hallie and her girls by giving them a house to house-sit and the owner of the diner gives Hallie a job waiting tables. It's nice how that all worked out, right? I didn't care that it all seemed that simple, the characters are wonderful and you actually feel Hallie's fear as she is running for her life and unsure who to trust. It turns out the the people of Primrose Creek are very trusting and at once she and her girls are welcomed but it is the growing attraction between she and Chance that seems to consume Hallie for a while. She knows that she can't stay in one place - she's unsure if her ex-husband has people looking for her or if anyone already knows where she is. The constant living-in-fear is slowly killing her!
As the relationship between she and Chance becomes physical and where she can see herself really loving this man, THAT'S when the ex re-enters the picture and brings the corruption storyline to an end. It was very chilling and very well written and I could not put it down! Seriously, I was working on my other blog WHILE reading!
I really enjoy a lot of Linda Lael Miller's work. I like that she doesn't just do the contemporary romance thing, she's got some historical's out there, as well. "The Last Chance Cafe" was a New York Times Best Seller back in 2002 and it still reads well today.
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