*Ali: Hope, welcome to my blog today! Congratulations on your book release, Welcome to Last Chance! What inspired you to write this book and to set them in a town called Last Chance?
*Hope: Well the main inspiration for the book is the Rascal Flatts song, God Bless the Broken Road. I heard that song and I knew right then I had to write a book about two people running away from the bad things that happened in the past, only to discover that what they've learned from their mistakes is what exactly what makes them ready to find love with each other. I set the story in a small town, because I've always wanted to write about the place where I spent my summers as a child -- a little town in the middle of South Carolina. I didn't want to set my stories in the real town, so I created my own made-up town and gave it a history that involved a person named Chance Rhodes who lost his farm in a poker game. His losing poker hand -- four aces -- got to be known as Chance's Last Chance, and the legend eventually gave the town its name. It was fun making up a history for my quirky little town.
*Ali: Can you tell us a bit more about Jane and Clay? Their initial meeting sounds interesting...
*Hope: When the book opens, Jane is running from her latest boyfriend, a low-life weasel mixed up in something illegal. He's stolen Jane's life savings and left her scared, alone, and with only enough money to buy a bus ticket to Last Chance.
She arrives in town late, so naturally, the only place opened for business is Dot's Spot, Last Chance's only watering hole. Jane heads into the bar, not entirely certain of her future plans, except that she needs a place to spend the night.
She walks into that bar and claps eyes on Clay Rhodes and knows that the Universe has just given her another curve ball. Clay, a professional musician, looks exactly like the kind of bad boy Jane has a weakness for.
But in reality, Clay is not a bad boy. He's a working musician who is home in Last Chance nursing a broken heart while he sits in with the local country and western band. And Jane looks like trouble the minute she sashays into the barroom.
Despite the immediate chemical reaction, Jane and Clay get off to a real rocky start the night they meet. Thank goodness the members of the Ladies Auxiliary, led by Clay's momma, Ruby, have matchmaking on their minds. Because Clay and Jane need all the help they can get.
*Ali: I read the letter on your website from Ruby Rhodes, Clay's mother in your novel, and she sounds like a character... will we be seeing her again?
*Hope: Ruby Rhodes is the proprietor of the Cut 'n Curl beauty shop--also known as gossip central in Last Chance. Ruby is also a member of the Last Chance Ladies Auxiliary, an inveterate bunch of matchmakers, lead by the quirky Miriam Randall, who has a knack for helping young folks find their soul mates. Ruby, Miriam, and the rest of the ladies get Clay and Jane all kinds of romantic trouble. The ladies of Last Chance are definitely going to be featured in all four of the Last Chance novels currently in the works.
*Ali: Can you tell us about what you're currently working on?
*Hope: The next book in the series, scheduled to be out in September, is Home at Last Chance. It features the story of Clay's younger brother, Tulane, a sexy-as-sin stock car driver whose got a big problem: His sponsor, Cottontail Disposable Diapers, has painted his racecar pink and put a snuggle bunny on the hood. Even worse, the sponsor wants him to officiate at baby changing races that feature the patented Cottontail quick release tabs for faster pit stops.
When Tulane balks at the baby races, Cottontail Diapers sends the prim Bostonian, Sarah Murray, to take charge of Tulane and straighten the good ol' boy out. Before he knows what's hit him, Sarah has bonded with his mother and every single member of the Ladies Auxiliary. But when the old gals try to match Sarah up with the minister of Christ Episcopal Church, Tulane has to put his foot down. It would seem that the notoriously bad Tulane Rhodes has fallen head over heels for the prim little Pilgrim in the black business suit.
*Ali: Hope, thanks for taking the time out to answer these questions! And now, the best question for last... what's your favorite dessert/sweet treat?
*Hope: Oh dear, I have a wicked sweet tooth, and having to choose just one sweet thing is hard. . . Okay, if I have to pick just one treat, then it would have to be a double dip coffee ice cream cone from the Lakeside Creamery in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The Lakeside Creamery is located in the middle of dairy farmer country in the panhandle of Maryland. You have never tasted ice cream as rich and creamy. If you're ever out that way, do not miss it. It's a landmark.
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