One More Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong left me hungry for more! Not only did I want to read more books in her A Place to Call Home series, but I wanted some of the New Mexico Green Chile Stew served up at the Dip n Dine in the small town of Last Chance. So here are my thoughts on the book and a recipe that Carlos may even have been proud to make!
Sarah Cooley has come home to Last Chance, New Mexico, for one reason–because it doesn’t change. After a relationship gone bad with a man who wanted to change everything about her, Sarah is more than ready for the town whose motto may as well be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Chris Reed, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to spark some change in the little town. As the new owner of the Dip ‘n’ Dine, he’s shaking things up to draw folks from all over the Southwest into his restaurant.
As it turns out, the winds of change are blowing into Last Chance–just not in the ways that Sarah or Chris might expect.
Cathleen Armstrong is the author of Welcome to Last Chance, winner of the ACFW Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction in 2009 and the first volume in the series A Place to Call Home. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives.
I really liked Cathleen Armstrong’s novel, Welcome to Last Chance. But I think I liked this book even more. She introduces three new characters to the already strong cast found in book 1. And while this book may be contemporary romance, the small town feel and the themes of change and fitting in make this more than a simple love story.
Chris Reed is the new owner of the Dip n Dine in Last Chance, New Mexico. He has great hopes for adding creative new dishes to the diner’s menu, but there’s strong opposition from the cook, Carlos, and some of his clientele who think any change is bad. Sarah Cooley has come back to Last Chance to teach second grade and she likes things just the way they have always been. But nothing ever stays the same as the two find out. With the arrival of Olivia, Chris’s seven year old niece, Chris and Sarah are thrown more and more together. Can they stay just friends.
Characters are a strong element of One More Last Chance. I loved the ensemble cast that make their way from the first book, including wise Elizabeth, opinionated Juanita, and stubborn Carlos. Chris and Sarah are highly likable characters that the reader knows from the start are meant for each other. Then there is Olivia, a kid who hides her vulnerability behind a tough veneer. The main characters are believers and take their faith seriously, but are just like the rest of us as they struggle with trust, insecurity and fitting in. The faith message is natural, never preachy. Armstrong also creates a small town feel that makes the reader want to settle in.
One More Last Chance can be read as a standalone novel, but I recommend you start with book 1. You won’t want to miss anything about the people or the place Armstrong has created.
To purchase this book, click HERE.
(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)
The Dip n Dine is famous for Carlos’ Green Chile Stew. A New Mexico staple, this recipe is courtesy of the Santa Fe School of Cooking.
Green Chile Stew
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin or pork butt, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 cups chicken or beef broth
1 pound red or white potatoes, cut in 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes
2 to 3 teaspoons salt, to taste
3 cups roasted, peeled, chopped green chile or to taste
3 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, to taste
Heat the oil in a 6-quart pot over high heat and brown the meat in
batches. Set aside. In the same oil, saute the onions until golden.
Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Return the meat to the pan along
with any juices that may have accumulated. Add the broth, potatoes,
salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for one hour, un-
til the potatoes are tender. Add the green chile and the red bell
pepper, and cook 15 to 20 minutes more. Add the cilantro, stir and serve.
Side Bar: At the school we use locally grown green chile when making
the stew. It is roasted over a fire or gas flame, peeled and chopped.
When the chile is not in season, we use roasted, peeled, chopped, frozen
green chile. You could also use freeze-dried green chile in place of the fresh.
A combination of mild and hot chiles produce a more balanced flavor.