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Friday, February 15, 2008

Review: No Second Chance

No Second Chance
by Maggie Toussaint

Hope Farrier rescues unwanted horses, but she’s saddled with debt. Without help she’ll lose Second Chance Farm, the first home she’s ever known. An endowment brings the promise of future relief and the presence of shrewd business manager, Devlin Temple.

Trouble is, Devlin has his dreamy blue eyes on more than her bottom line.

Playboy Devlin Temple lays a trap for the thief that’s fleecing his company. When his cousin sets his cap for Devlin’s job, Devlin knows he needs Hope’s help to secure the CEO position. In her arms he finds the solace and support he craves, but their blossoming romance prompts the thief to raise the stakes.

Will Devlin and Hope pay the ultimate price for love?

Hope Farrier is a courageous, admirable woman who comes from humble beginnings and is trying to make a go of her dilapidated horse rescue farm. Devlin Temple is the wealthy CEO of an equine supply corporation with the reputation of a playboy. When his dying mother covertly entangles them together, their lives — and hearts — are thrown into chaos.

Hope is an appealing heroine. She’s had some sadness and setbacks in her life, but nothing will stop her from pursuing her goals. She has more reason than most to be whiny and self-pitying — her parents’ death and separation from her sister as a child; her financial concerns and fear of losing the farm, and a bad relationship that ended in humiliation, to name a few — but she is strong and passionate about her calling: the care and love of neglected and abused horses. I find her dedication to the horses and what she is trying to accomplish heartwarming and admirable so I was immediately pulling for her.

Devlin has a history of dating beautiful-with-no-substance women, but having been engaged to one only to have her dump him for his rival cousin, he has started to rethink his pursuit of false women. I found this to be an effective way of handling the Rake-turned-Good Guy transition — Ms. Toussaint gives a reason why he might no longer finds model-types alluring and why he can now be open to someone like Hope, a simple ‘farm girl’. The idea of a gigolo becoming the perfect man simply for the love of a good woman is a nice idea, but not very realistic, so it is nice to see a bit of Devlin’s history to explain his personal growth.

The intrigue and danger surrounding the two main characters is multi-faceted and fast-paced. The author weaves an intricate pattern of mayhem around Hope and Devlin, keeping their lives entangled regardless of their expressed wishes. The twist at the end is unexpected yet satisfying.

Although enjoyable, I didn’t give No Second Chance a five book rating because there are a few passages that pulled me out of the story. For example, a possible candidate for the antagonist is hinted at, but the hint is contrived and never explained. There are a couple of times in which I felt that Hope’s reaction to Devlin is too harsh for the situation. I also found Hope’s sister, Paige’s extreme attitudes toward Devlin are not explained — both her initial reaction and her about-face — there is no clear foundation presented for either of her mind-sets about him. Paige speaks in a condescending manner to Hope, which is out of character, as the sisters are portrayed as being close. If Paige had been developed further, her behavior may have had more meaning.

These issues being minor, I’m glad I took the first chance to read No Second Chance. Caught up in their story, I read the whole book in one sitting. If you have a quiet evening to curl up with a good book and you enjoy suspense, horses, Cinderella stories or all three — this book will satisfy.

Review by Camomile