INN AT LAST CHANCE - Hope Ramsay
Last Chance Series
Grand Central's Forever
Last Chance, South Carolina - the Present
Spinster Jenny Carpenter quit her job as a schoolteacher, took a huge risk and used all of her savings to buy and restore the Jonquil House on the edge of a swamp outside the small town of Last Chance. She is ready to embrace the life of a perpetually single woman, but wants company. If determination can do it, the Jonquil House will become a successful bed and breakfast because Jenny is one of the best cooks around. It is January, and a storm is turning the roads icy causing the late delivery of her furniture, plus her sewing circle cannot meet to make curtains for the same reason.
A pounding at the door introduces a belligerent Gabriel, or Gabe, Raintree, best-selling horror novelists and former owner of Jonquil House, the place his family abandoned a long time ago. He demands a room. Jenny informs him the inn isn't open yet. Gabe needs a room for three months because writer's block grips him and he wants somewhere quiet to get away from everything including his fans and his problems. He wants to stay at Jonquil House, and this mousy little sparrow of a woman isn't going to thwart him even if he has to buy the place back. In the town of Last Chance, he runs into Zeph Gibbs, the man who accidentally shot his older brother Luke twenty-five years ago. Gabe remembers nothing of the day, although he was there. Luke's death is the reason his grandparents and he moved away. Zeph tells Gabe to leave town.
Jenny has a dream telling her she needs a cat when she wants a dog. Next morning a stray mastiff appears just in time to knock down a returning Gabe Raintree, injuring him. He ends up staying rent-free in her back bedroom, the room that had been Luke's. After that, many strange things begin to happen, including contention about whether Jenny or Gabe owns the dog Bear, whom Gabe names after Luke's mastiff named Bear.
First, let me say that I don't normally enjoy ghost stories; however, INN AT LAST CHANCE grabbed me from the beginning and made me believe Luke haunted the Jonquil House. The romance between abrasive, disagreeable, and demanding Gabe and warm hearted, feminist-in-the-works Jenny is rocky. They are very different, but both are independent, stubborn, lonely characters who actively deny the pain of their respective pasts. The truth has been hidden from Gabe for years. The church ladies see Gabe as a demon, for how else could he write such books? Matchmakers abound. The hurling chicken scene where Jenny prepares dinner for the new pastor and Gabe is hilarious. INN AT LAST CHANCE is full of interesting characters, many from previous volumes of this undeclared series. References to Jane Eyre draw another parallel within the story. The ending is a melodramatic tearjerker, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the difficult but understated romance, the touch of paranormal, and the emotional scenes made this a Perfect 10 for me.