Published by Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: Sept. 30, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, Fiction, Mystery or Thrillers, Women's
Source: Giveaway won
Synopsis from Goodreads:
“Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It’s the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia’s father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he’s come home to die of cancer, and she’s responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt.
Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town’s most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope.
As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated…”
I first heard of author Kimberly Belle and The Last Breath when we hosted Kimberly as one of our guest bloggers for Be Our Guest Fridays. The book was set in Rogersville, Tennessee, in a remote area of the mountains and close to where the author grew up. Kimberly talked about how her childhood influenced the setting for The Last Breath.
Gia is a humitarian aid worker who escaped Rogersville once already and has been on a worldwide trek ever since her father’s murder conviction. She hasn’t set foot in Rogersville in 16 years and reluctantly comes back when her father comes home to live his few remaining days in his house. Her siblings, the townspeople and courts have already convicted her father. Her father maintains his innocence and a reporter plants doubts in Gia’s head that perhaps her father was wrongly convicted. Gia begins a race against time to find out if her father is guilty or innocent before he dies.
This was a very suspenseful book, up until the end I really did not know which way it was going to go. I was intrigued and could not put it down. Gia grows through the many stages of grief when dealing with both her father’s pending death and the guilt of not knowing the truth about the murder of her stepmother. Will Gia and her siblings come to terms with their father before his death? Can they forgive him for what he might have done or he forgive them for abandoning him the last 16 years he spent in jail?
I enjoyed that the story was told from alternating points of view. We hear from both Gia and Ella Mae, Gia’s stepmother, before the murder and the events leading up to her death. We get to see that things in Ella Mae’s relationships are not what they seem and she shows us the possible motives behind her murder. It fueled my curiousity and I kept flip-flopping between who really killed her.
Balancing out the dark themes of death and murder, I was surprised to find a bit of steamy romance between Gia and town heartthrob Jake. While the ladies, including Gia’s sister Lexi, throw themselves at Jake, he and Gia clearly have a connection from their first meeting. With all the drama surrounding Gia’s life, she finds in Jake a support she’s never had and a love she’s never known before. Will it be enough to keep Gia rooted in Rogersville when her desire to help those less fortunate worldwide calls to her?
A story about one family’s plight with grief and passion, love and loss, forgiveness and redemption, The Last Breath kept me intrigued until the very last word, my first 5-star book of the year! I was so happy to win a copy of this book from a Deep South Magazine Southern Lit Twitter chat. Be sure to stop by their site for upcoming monthly Southern Lit chats with fantastic authors. Thanks Deep South Magazine for this great book!
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Other Bloggers’ Reviews:
Don’t just take my word for it, read these other fabulous bloggers’ reviews and decide for yourself.
I was so excited that Kimberly wanted to giveaway a SIGNED copy of The Last Breath to one of my readers, and she will ship it INTERNATIONALLY! Lucky us! Open to individuals 18 years or older. Hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! The book has discussion questions, a reader’s guide and an author interview too and this would make a fun book club read.