A Chance of a Lifetime by Marilyn Pappano

A Chance of a Lifetime by Marilyn Pappano
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (400 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Sometimes love finds you when you least expect it…

To Benita Ford, Tallgrass, Oklahoma, will always be home. It’s where her beloved grandmother raised her and where she rode bikes with her two best friends—the man who became her husband and Calvin. And Tallgrass is where she stayed, even after her husband died while serving his country. Now Calvin is home from that same war, and the sensitive, mischievous boy she once knew is today a man scarred by wounds no one else can see. Falling in love with him is something Bennie never imagined.

Tallgrass still haunts Captain Calvin Sweet. Yet it’s where he must go to see Bennie—the one woman he always loved but could never have. Calvin regrets so much about what happened years ago. Still he can’t deny being with Bennie makes his future feel bright, like anything is possible. But the demons of his past won’t be quieted that easily. As old hurts linger, threatening to pull them apart, Calvin and Bennie must take the ultimate risk for the love of a lifetime.

When love slips into the darkness of death, sometimes friendship is the only salvation.

Benita “Bennie” Ford is a member of the Margarita Club in Tallgrass, Oklahoma, a circle of recently widowed women, including her friend Lucy, who have come to rely on each other while trying to redesign their husbandless lives.

J’Myel Ford and Calvin Sweet grew up as Bennie’s two best friends. The three had been inseparable as children. After high school, both men enlisted in the military and were inducted and stationed together, but shortly after Bennie fell in love and married J’Myel, a mysterious falling out occurred between the two men. J’Myel and Bennie allowed their friendship with Calvin to drift away. When J’Myel was killed in action, Calvin never contacted Bennie, breaking her heart even more. She had somehow lost them both. Diagnosed with PTSD, the Army sent Calvin back home to Tallgrass, the very place he couldn’t face, hiding secrets he didn’t want known.

Bennie and her grandmother “Mama” have a beautiful relationship, strong enough to hold the whole story together by itself, but just down the street is the Sweet home, where Calvin’s family lives. The two families are fabulous in their own right. Enter Dietz, a fourteen-year-old boy with his own reason for being in Tallgrass, and you’ve got a nearly unbeatable story. Adding to the rounding out of this story is Lucy and Joe and their love of animals.

Bennie and Calvin are the central characters to this book and they are strong enough to carry this entire story on their own. Although I loved hearing about the lives of Lucy and Joe, I felt like they were an intrusion into the “real” story. I would have preferred to leave them in the background and perhaps let them have the next story in the Tallgrass books.

My biggest criticism of this story was not the story itself, but the story’s format. The novel has eighteen chapters, but rarely did the chapters divide where needed. Instead, an inordinate amount of “breaks” were used throughout the book, which made it difficult to absorb the events. My reader’s brain needed a rest, but was never given one at the right times. I ended up stopping mid-chapter so many times that when I returned to the book I felt I did not have a grasp on the events leading up to my stopping point, so I was continually re-reading whole sections before moving onward. That made for a long, often frustrating, read. Still, the story itself is terrific and gives the reader a true view of PTSD in a realistic, yet rewarding voice.

Anyone looking for a deep, thought-provoking story of life and love will enjoy this book.

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