One Last Chance
Oak Grove Series, Book 3
July 11, 2017
She's escaped an abusive relationship, he's hiding from the horrors that followed him home. Can the two of them find the courage to face their pain, heal, and find love?
Rachel Bennett has had enough. She’s finally found the strength to leave her bastard of a boyfriend with the help of her childhood friend and deputy sheriff, Sawyer. But the hurt runs deep, as do the family secrets that drove her down the spiral of self-destruction. She’s determined to start life fresh, but with nowhere to go, she finds herself staying with Sawyer.
Sawyer Truman has loved Rachel as long as he can remember. He joined the Army Reserves after high school to prove to himself—and Rachel—he’s the right man for her. He returns from Afghanistan, demons hot on his trail, to find Rachel shacking up with a new boyfriend. He fears he’s lost his one chance with Rachel. It doesn’t take long before he sees what no one wants to admit—Rachel is being abused. After one too many calls to her house, he convinces Rachel to leave Shane. What he didn’t expect to happen was to find her living in his guest room.
As Rachel heals from her abusive relationship, Sawyer and Rachel grow closer. But will a lingering family secret threaten to ruin Rachel’s fragile psyche? Will Sawyer’s unspoken love for Rachel survive and grow?
One Last Chance is a powerful, touching, emotion filled, authentic story about healing and surviving domestic abuse and PTSD. It is about learning to trust and love again, about family, forgiveness, and acceptance. It is a story that had me in tears because of the raw and real feelings that burst from the pages and touched my heart.
Rachel Bennett's story has been building up through the series. First, it was just the hints that something was not right, and then it escalated into more information about the abusive situation she lived in. The anticipation was high as I started the book, and from the first page, it pulled me into the story that I inhaled, forgetting everything else around me.
There are detailed domestic violence situations in the story, as well as nightmarish PTSD episodes that might be a trigger to some. They are very well done, respectfully and thoughtfully towards the survivors, yet filled with rough images of a true to life situations.
Sawyer Truman, the trustworthy, honorable, kind, patient, protective man was the perfect person for Rachel in every way. His support to Rachel during her healing is immeasurable, he would do anything to help her find herself again, to learn to stand up for herself again, to find the new Rachel who takes control of her own life.
As the time passes and their closeness brings more intimacy, the romantic feelings from their past develop into something much more, something passionate, something beautiful, lasting, the forever and a day kind of love. It is so beautifully done, absolutely adorable how the adoration Sawyer feels for Rachel helps her to find herself again.
The timing, in the story, is perfect. The healing takes time, the development of the characters as well as their feelings takes its time to grow and cultivate. There are several elements that keep the intensity high, the nightmares, the palpable fear of new attacks, the family secrets, and the angst of new chances, new beginnings, new careers, and new life, love, future. The story is well written flowing off the pages seamlessly with constant new twists in the characters lives making it impossible to put down until the very satisfying end.
The Bennett family has made an impact on me and found their way to my heart. The stories have the small town charm, yet are filled with such life-like, real, authentic emotions that it is easy to connect with the protagonists, and feel their joys and sorrows. Each story seems to top the previous one, yet all the books can be read as standalone stories.
A poignant and heartrending story that still manages to inspire, encourage, and deliver a beautiful message of love, trust, family, and forgiveness.
~ Five Spoons
She spun in a circle, her arms open wide. Her laughter filled the air.
Sawyer laughed along with her. She locked gazes with him and his eyes lit with excitement.
And another emotion smoldering just below the surface.
“I’m glad.” When she was done spinning, she recaptured his hand. She wasn’t about to count on him taking the initiative twice. She wanted to explore the unmistakable desire that had flashed in his eyes before he’d shuttered them. Butterflies danced in her stomach, their rapidly-beating wings stirring her insides to mush. If someone had asked her last week, shoot, just a few days ago, where she’d be, not in a million years would holding hands with Sawyer have been her response. She was like a teenager mooning over her first crush, before Shane had jaded her outlook on life and love.
Each stroke of Sawyer’s thumb over her knuckle sent a jolt that jump started her heart. She had forgotten that a man’s touch didn’t have to mean fear or pain. Could he hear the wild beating inside her chest? She couldn’t hide much from him, not when he stood so close.
Sawyer stiffened slightly. “So...are you gonna start back up at J.J.’s soon?”
Damn. She would have liked a few more minutes of bliss before being forced to confront the reality of her daily life staring her in the face.
“I’d like a couple of days to regroup and let my bruises fade. I’m sure I’m already the talk of the town, the Bennett girl who couldn’t take care of herself—”
Sawyer stopped walking. He released her hand but before she could mourn the loss of the connection, he cupped her cheeks so she had no choice but to look him in the eye.
“I don’t wantto hear you say that again. You’re a strong woman. Someone plenty capable of taking care of yourself. You just got bogged down in a difficult situationfor a while before you got out of it.You did that, Rachel.”
If only that were true. She wasn’t that strong.
His gaze dropped to her lips. Her tongue darted out and wet them.
Being this close to him, the flecks in his eyes sparkled. She leaned into him, just a bit. He didn’t back away. His eyes stayed fixed on hers. Did he have butterflies dancing in his stomach right now, too?
Memories of her childhood crush filled her mind. She closed the final inches between them, and her lips brushed against his — tentative, testing his response. He didn’t kiss her back, but he didn’t pull away, either. His lips were firm and strong. And soft. She tasted a hint of malt.
Well, him not kissing her back just wouldn’t do. She pressed gently against him, their bodies touching. His arms came around her and he tilted his head. Finally. His lips moved over hers, teasing and nibbling the corners of her mouth before brushing across her lips again. When she pulled back to see if the world had just shifted for him too, her hands stayed on his arms.
Nancy Stopper is an award-winning debut author. She writes contemporary romance with strong women and sexy heroes that tug at your emotional heartstrings and leave you with a warm feeling that lingers long after the last page. Her favorite escape is small-town romance and even when set in a larger location, her books have that small-town feel.Her first novel, One Last Risk, won first place in the Short Contemporary Romance category of the Fool for Love Contest and was a Maggie Finalist in the unpublished Single-Title Contemporary Category. Dreams Come True in Laguna, Nancy's first novella, was published in the Laguna Beach Kindle World in 2016. One Last Risk, her first full-length contemporary romance novel was published in April 2017. Nancy lives in Virginia with her husband, two of her three kids that are still at home, and one cat who regards her with disdain daily. When she's not behind her laptop, you can find her at a ballfield, cheering on her favorite team (Washington Nationals) or her favorite player (her son, who pitches for his local high school), or at a dance performance with her daughter.
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