Inn at Last Chance by Hope Ramsay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Jenny Carpenter used to be a teacher, but when she realized she was destined to become the unofficial spinster of Last Chance, South Carolina, she decided to take charge of her life in other ways and fulfill her dream of owning a B&B. She bought the rundown Jonquil House mansion from the last member of the Raintree family, famous horror author Gabriel Raintree, and she's spent the past few months renovating it into the floral-themed inn she's always wanted. She hasn't even received delivery of her mother's antique furniture yet when the grumpy former owner himself shows up on her doorstep demanding to be allowed to rent a room.
Gabe needs a quiet place to hide and write, and he is not pleased when the frumpy innkeeper turns him away. Jonquil House is both the source of his happiest memories and his greatest pain--the perfect place, he believes, to get his creative juices flowing again. Luckily for Gabe, Jenny's book group needs to ask him for a favor, so they guilt her into offering him a room in exchange for being the featured guest at their upcoming save-the-library fundraiser. And that is when the ghost starts making his presence known.
I requested a copy of this book from NetGalley, thinking it would be a nice, light romance, along the lines of Debbie Macomber's works. Just goes to show, you can't judge a book by its cover! Yes, some aspects were similar--e.g., there were no explicit sex scenes--but I was not expecting it to be more ghost story than grand passion.
I think the book had the potential to be a solid 4 stars instead of a weak 3 if Ms. Ramsay had also taken another look at her character development to make it more internally logical--i.e. to give it more of a solid foundation/structure on which to build the story. It would also have been nice to see Jenny develop more of a backbone & not be so meek with those sewing circle/book group ladies--the new pastor was a jerk, and she should have SAID so!
Ironically, I found the haunting more believable than the budding relationship. I found Gabriel's motives for hiding his diabetes from Jenny completely inexplicable, for example, and he was so rude to her for so long, and she had such unresolved mommy issues, that their attraction really didn't make much sense. Still, I did eventually root for them to get together.
What holds the book together is the plot, which I found to often be quite engaging, particularly when the ghost was acting up. However, I don't know that the homage to Jane Eyre works tremendously well, which would be great fodder for a book group discussion. (There is a reading group guide included at the end of the book.)
For readers' advisors: story doorway, a little swearing, what sex scenes there are fade to black. It's the seventh book in the series, so readers might want to start with book #1, Welcome to Last Chance.
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