Miss Presley Cline returns home for a break from her Hollywood “career.” Declan Anderson stayed in town his whole life, carrying on the family funeral home business he wasn’t sure he wanted. When a tornado throws them together, they have to decide where home really is — and with whom.
I’m such a fan of Kilpatrick that I expected this to be as magical as The Happy Hour Choir (SEE MY 5 STAR REVIEW HERE). Better Get to Livin’ wasn’t quite amazing, but I enjoyed the quirky characters, southern charm, and the happily ever after.
As far as the writing – superb as usual. I’m not even a paranormal fan, but I absolutely admire Kilpatrick’s skill in writing Presley’s ability to talk to dead people. The ghosts were fun and funny and helped explain some of the characters’ backstories. Just goes to show that a good writer can write fabulous characters, whether they’re alive or dead. Hah!
On a side note, Sally Kilpatrick totally amuses me on Twitter. On your next reading break, take a peek.
Some books are just magical, making me feel like I’m in another world, even though the plot and characters are pretty realistic. Some authors have a way of spinning a story into ethereality. The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith, The Reluctant Prophet by Nancy Rue, and First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen all took me by surprise, embracing me into their twilight. And now The Happy Hour Choir joins the list.
Beulah is a poor southern young woman, living with a friend, working in a bar, rolling her eyes at religion, and avoiding the church rectory across the street. Until a new, good looking, patient, strong, God-loving pastor comes to town. Beulah certainly notices Luke, and even though she avoids talking about God with him, she appreciates his steadfastness and stability.
Luke doesn’t try to convert Beulah, but he does guide her in the areas of self-respect and leading others.
And that’s where the happy hour choir comes in. Beulah uses her connections from the bar to put together a new choir for Luke’s church. And it just happens to meet after Luke’s bible study… Also held at the bar.
Beulah and Luke wend their way through storms and calm, meeting up and lending support along the way. I loved to see their hearts changing and them shepherding the people around in amazing ways.
Maybe the magic is in the southern-ness of the story, maybe it’s conviction of faith, or maybe it’s just Luke’s strong silent alpha maleness, but whatever it is left me feeling warm and wanting more.
Molly and Simon were acquainted as children, when Molly was a tomboy and Simon played football for Molly’s dad. Twenty-five years later, Molly is still a tomboy, fixing cars and avoiding domesticity. Simon is a famous artist, dropping back into town for his father’s funeral, besieged by bad memories and childhood trauma. Though they seem an unlikely couple in their own eyes and those all over Last Chance, fate steps in and shows Simon and Molly that sometimes love is enough to overcome the past.
This book is #6 in a series, but it’s the first I’ve read of the Last Chance books. I enjoyed the South Carolina setting, the descriptions of the southern heat, and Miriam the soothsayer. And because I totally dig accents, I was pretty happy hearing Simon talk with all his I-reckons and Yes-sirs, not to mention his fishing down at the river. I thought the Purly Girls widows knitting group was fun — and a little sad, too. Good writing made that juxtaposition possible.
From a yankee’s perspective, I thought the southern charm was believable and integrated well. There were no grits or biscuits mentioned, but there were camellias, bourbon, gardening, “well-shoot”s, and a guy named Bubba!
The subplots were a nice diversion from the usual — a Spanish guy from the west coast falls in love with this small Carolina town and breaks up with his boyfriend to move there; a newly widowed woman has had dementia for years and her son needs to help; businesses changing hands mean job insecurity for many in town; new puppies and new babies give new mommies a run for their money; two May-December romances work out to happily-ever-afters.
The best part of the Molly and Simon story was their ability to stay true to themselves while shedding their fears and insecurities. By loving each other, Molly and Simon became better, brighter, and happier. I was uplifted.