Check into the Inn at Last Chance

I have three brothers.  They taught me much as I grew up.  How to kick a soccer ball.  How to climb a tree.  How to bait a hook.  How to score a baseball game.

They also handed down their books to me.  Books like: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein, and I, Robot by Isaac AsimovI never read a Nancy Drew story in my life but I did jump feet first into all twenty-three volumes of the Tarzan series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Book 1 - A Princess Of Mars (1)


When I was eleven or twelve I would take one or two of these hand-me-down books on summer vacations to South Carolina.  Until the year my Aunt Annie put her foot down.  I believe the book in question was A princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Annie had no idea what was between the covers of this book, she simply objected to its cover.

Not to mention the fact that I was reading all these hand-me-downs from the boys and I was missing out on the good stuff.  Or so she claimed.  I personally thought four armed green guys with tusks were pretty cool.  Annie didn’t agree.

So that summer she took away my Edgar Rice Burroughs and handed me Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I reluctantly cracked the book, sure that it would be filled with icky, sissy, not very interesting stuff.


And then I met Mr. Rochester and . . . *sigh* . . . I’ve never been quite the same since.

I think I’ve re-read Jane Eyre at least twenty or thirty times and I never get tired of it.  It was the gateway drug for many other reading addictions including my love of Jane Austen. 

Anyway, I knew when I started writing about the Last Chance, South Carolina book club that they would eventually get around to reading Jane Eyre.  And that’s precisely what they do in my newest release Inn at Last Chance, which went on sale this week.

Inn at Last Chance cover_hi res2X3This book is an homage to Jane Eyre.  My heroine, Jenny Carpenter, is a modern take on Jane.  She’s a former school teacher who dresses like a little mouse and who has decided to embrace her spinsterhood.  Her plain outsides mask a deeply emotional and passionate woman.  My hero, Gabe Raintree, is Mr. Rochester in spades.  He’s moody, dark, tortured, not entirely honest, and keeps lots and lots of secrets which make for fun plot surprises.  He even has a mastiff just like Rochester, only the dog in the story is named Bear and not Pilot.

There’s a creepy house.  And a ghost.  And lots of gothic goings on.  Of course I’ve blended all of this with the usual matchmaking church ladies who are determined to match Jenny up with the new Preacher in town, Tim Lake, who bears a resemblance to St. John Rivers.

I had a blast writing this book.  And I know I shouldn’t have favorites, but it is probably my favorite of all the Last Chance books I’ve written so far.  That’s how much I love the hero of this book . . . and Jane Eyre.

So here’s my question for all of the readers (and authors) who are dropping by today: What was the book that turned you on to romance, and why?

One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of Inn at Last Chance.

* * * *

Back Cover Blurb

Jenny Carpenter is the unrivaled pie-baking champion of Last Chance, South Carolina’s annual Watermelon Festival and the town’s unofficial spinster. With her dream of marriage and children on hold, she focuses on another dream, turning the local haunted house into a charming bed-and-breakfast. But her plans go off course when the home’s former owner shows up on her doorstep on a dark and stormy night . . .

Mega-bestselling horror writer Gabriel Raintree is as mysterious and tortured as his heroes. His family’s long-deserted mansion is just the inspiration he needs to finish his latest twisted tale, or so he thinks until he learns it’s been sold. The new innkeeper proves to be as determined as she is kind, and soon Gabriel finds himself a paying guest in his own home. As Jenny and Gabe bring new passion to the old house, can she convince him to leave the ghosts of his past behind-and make Last Chance their first choice for a future together?

* * * *


The coals in Mr. Raintree’s fireplace must have been hot because the wood he stacked on the andirons caught fire right away. He looked down and poked the log a few times. The fire’s glow lit up his stony features, softening them in a way that made the breath catch in Jenny’s throat.

Just then, he looked up at her across the bare, almost sterile room. “You’re staring at me. What is it? Are you checking me out? Please don’t tell me that you think I’m handsome.”

“No,” she said without thought.

He chuckled. And the sound seemed to warm the room by degrees. “You’re a piece of work, Jenny Carpenter. You look exactly like the kind of conventional woman who hands out platitudes. And yet every time I speak with you, you surprise me. Don’t you know that southern women never speak their minds directly?”

The room suddenly felt tropical. Her mother had scolded her dozens of times for speaking her mind. She needed to watch it, now that she was an innkeeper. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I was too blunt. I should have said something about how what’s on the outside doesn’t matter much.”

He snorted a laugh. “I’m glad you didn’t. I like honesty. The truth is I’m not even remotely handsome. I never have been. Unlike…” His voice faded away, and he turned to look at an empty corner of the room.

“Unlike who?”

He shrugged. “No one.” He turned back to the fire, and the muscle along his jaw flexed. “I need to get back to work.”

* * * *

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35 responses to “Check into the Inn at Last Chance”

  1. Kim Law says:

    I love this bit of insight into you, Hope. And yay for Aunt Annie! Is she still around? Proud of you today?

    As for what romance set me on my path, I have no idea. Some Harlequin/Silhouette. I impatiently waited for my mom to finish with them, then read than equally as fast as she did 🙂

    • Hope Ramsay says:

      Hi Kim,

      Sadly Aunt Annie is no longer with us. She passed away in 1989. But my travels with my aunt are the fodder for the entire Last Chance series. And, of course, Aunt Annie not only turned me on to girly books, but she also taught me how to sew and knit, two addictions that I still have. So she was a major influence in my life.

      And, funny think, I’m the one who turned my mother on to romances — particularly Nora Roberts. 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for sharing Hiope and so happy that Inn at Last Chance is out and I’m now reading it!
    Had a blast with you at the launch party and happy for my win, hust don’t know why I was so off on the Last Chance trivia, had too many surgeries and put under too much I guess.
    I really hope your feeling better today and can enjoy the down time you so deserve!
    Lots of love for you and your books!


    • Hope Ramsay says:

      Hey Belinda,

      No worries, those were some obscure trivia questions. Thanks for dropping by. I’m feeling a little better today, but I still have a cough. 🙁

      • As you can see I’m still off my game I know you don’t have an”I” in your name. I had to leave the house by 7 o’clock this morning for a nerve test on my hands I have been having loss of feeling in them ever since my last surgery so I wasn’t all together when typing.
        Glad your feeling better I hope the cough goes away soon!


  3. Jen Gilroy says:

    Congratulations on your new release, Hope. I’m looking forward to reading the ‘Inn at Last Chance.’

    The book that got me reading and (much later) writing romance is ‘The Blue Castle’ by L.M. Montgomery. An ‘old maid’ heroine who found her happy ever after with a mysterious hero and, ultimately, got the better of her foolish family, is still one of my comfort reads.

  4. Hope,

    I want an Aunt Annie. I think we’d get along.

    • Hope Ramsay says:

      Well Annie had her moments. She taught me a lot, but she could be grumpy sometimes. And heaven help the person who put their elbows on the table. 😉

  5. Elisa Beatty says:

    Oh, I am FLAILING here, Hope!!!

    Jane Eyre is one of my favorites, and the transposition to Last Chance sounds so delightful. Yay!!!

    My childhood reading sounds a lot like yours, if you throw the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories and Ursula LeGuin into the mix…

    Can’t wait to read this one!

    • Hope Ramsay says:

      I wasn’t all that into murder mysteries so I didn’t discover Sherlock Holmes (or Miss Marple) until I was in college. But Ursula LeGuin is one of my personal favorites. She was one of the first women to write science fiction and her books were beautifully written. I still have the Earthsea Trillogy on my keeper shelf.

  6. Vivi Andrews says:

    Happy release day! The book sounds fabulous, Hope! I love a modernization of a classic. 🙂

    And what a great question! The first romance I read was a Johanna Lindsey – I wanna say it was called Secret Fire? But the one that really got me hooked was Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. I still reread it to remind myself how fabulous romance can be.

  7. LOL, that green guy on the cover?! Yeah, I’d probably be reading that to see what my kids were up to. 😉

    I WISH I could remember the first couple of books I read that led me into romance. I picked up a bundle of about four at a garage sale, not understanding what they were. (I was about 14 at the time.) And LOVED them. All I remember was they were Harlequins, probably Superromance, if they had that back in the late 80s. I fell in love with romance that summer. Sigh.

    Every once in a while, I think about trolling the internet for Harlequin covers or plots from that time period that might ring a bell. 🙂

    • Hope Ramsay says:

      I didn’t “discover” harlequin romances until I was in the middle thirties. I read all the classic love stories, of course, but for some reason I didn’t actually realize there was a genre called romance until I will all grown up. And the book that made it all clear to me was Bittersweet by Lavyrle Spencer.

  8. The book that swept me into reading romance was Forever Amber. The intriguing characters and the power of the story had a stunning effect. I felt their pain and despair. For days, I could only think of the story. It was an intoxicating introduction to the world of romance.

  9. June Love says:

    Hope, I love what you did with this book! You’ve made me want to Jane Eyre…again. Thank goodness for people like Aunt Annie, right?

    I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading, so trying to remember my first “true” romance book is difficult. I do remember a very young version of me trying to turn non-romance books into reading Trixie Beldon books just to see if she and Jim would ever get together. Probably the first “real” HEA romance I ever read was The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodwiss. I was hooked.

  10. Gwyn says:

    Desire of the Heart by (blush) Barbara Cartland. I was in seventh or eighth grade. Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and Mary Stewart (I adored Crystal Cave and still own that trilogy) soon followed. Volunteering at the library gave me access to so many great books, it took no time at all ere I was a lost cause. 😉

  11. Elise Hayes says:

    I’m so glad _Inn at Last Chance_ is out! It popped up on my Kindle two days ago (yes, I’m a fan. I pre-ordered).

    I’ll confess, however, that I’ve never read Jane Eyre. *And* I have a graduate degree in English Literature. But the Romantics just never did it for me. I’d start them, and put them right back down. Way too much self-involved drama for me.

    Romance, on the other hand, rocked my world when I started reading it in about 8th grade. It was a box of Harlequin Presents and Silhouettes that came my way via some of my older sister’s friends, who had gotten the box from their high school English teacher. I was instantly hooked.

    And since then, if a book doesn’t have at least *some* kind of romantic element–however minor–I just don’t find it satisfying.

    Congrats again on the release, Hope!

    • Hope Ramsay says:

      I surely do wish Aunt Annie had handed me a harlequin romance, but she was not likely to do that. In fact I’m pretty sure she disapproved of “trashy” books like that. So I had to go find my romance in the classics (because in those days you wouldn’t find any romance in sci fi or fantasy). But I was just like you — I came to a place where the books without some kind of romantic element were not terribly satisfying.

      Unfortunately so many of the books I read with “romantic elements” didn’t have HEA endings. I cried through every one of Leon Uris’s epic novels. And don’t get me started on Ernest Hemmingway.

      I didn’t read my first harlequin romance until I was thirty years old. 🙂

  12. Rita Henuber says:

    *the usual matchmaking church ladies*
    Of course. LOL! Congrats and wishing you many sales.
    I honestly do not remember the first romance book I read. Wish I could remember.

  13. Diana Layne says:

    Only child, weenie girly girl here, I didn’t get tough til I had my first three boys in three years. 🙂 I read a lot of Barbara Cartland, Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney like Gwyn, but my biggest one was Gone With the Wind which I read 8 times in the 7th and 8th grade. I was glad that Rhett and Scarlet didn’t get together in the end because Rhett was mine!!! LOL. (no, I never read the sequel)

    Inn at Last Chance looks fabulous!!

    • Hope Ramsay says:

      I read Gone with the Wind shortly after I read Jane Eyre. I was in middle school, probably. I could never really bond with Scarlet for some reason — probably because she was too dumb to realize what a catch Rhett was.

      Favorite line: “You should be kissed, and often, by someone who knows how.”

      Rhett is yummy.

  14. Traci Krites says:

    Janelle Taylor’s Savage Series. I still love Joanna’s and Windhawk’s story as well as her brother’s and then their children’s.

  15. Tamara Hogan says:

    I was a feral reader when I was young, reading everything and anything, but I know the first romance novels I read were Harlequin Presents I checked out of the library, starting when I was 10 years old. I hit the adult stacks at that age and never looked back – though I must admit to having read less Austen than many of my romance reading and writing contemporaries! Gap in my education. 😉

    Thinking back on it, the things that most stick with me about those books are the heroines’ occupations, and how doing their job so frequently required traveling to some glamorous foreign location with the (usually alpha-hole) hero.

    To a young girl growing up in a small, rural mining town, before Title IX existed, these books exposed me to a broader world.

  16. bn100 says:

    pride and prejudice for the characters

  17. You had me at Mr. Rochester. SIGH !! I am so looking forward to reading this book. I need to make certain to get a copy for my Mom for Mother’s Day so she doesn’t try to steal mine. She’s as big a Last Chance fan as I am.

    And how funny that Jane Eyre was your “gateway” romance. Mine was Pride and Prejudice and I read it when I was nine years old. Two little old lady librarians in England thought I needed a break from Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague and my Dad’s old Louis Lamour’s. And when I finished reading all of Jane Austen’s novels they handed me Jane Eyre.

    I think the appeal was that the people in these books seemed so much more real to me than the characters in other books. I have no idea why, but they have stuck with me even after all of these years.


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