Title: A Chance of a Lifetime by Marilyn Pappano
Tallgrass Series Book Five
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 401 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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 . .
A Chance of a Lifetime by Marilyn Pappano is a moving novel of friendship, family and love. This latest installment in the Tallgrass series focuses on healing the invisible wounds of war as well as the hurts of the past when Calvin Sweet returns to Oklahoma.
Calvin, Benita “Bennie” Ford and J’Myel Ford grew up together and the three were inseparable. Calvin and J’Myel joined the Army following high school while Bennie remained in Tallgrass. A rift between Calvin and J’Myel ended their close-knit friendship and since Bennie was dating J’Myel at the time, she acquiesced to his demand to end her friendship with Calvin too. In the intervening years, Bennie married, then buried, J’Myel while Calvin’s multiple deployments and devastating losses of several friends has left him battling severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Through the help of an informal widow’s support group, Bennie is doing well despite the heartrending loss of her husband. She has a strong faith, invaluable friendships with other widows and a close relationship with the grandmother who raised her. In spite of the losses she has experienced, she remains upbeat and cheerful and she is well on her way to realizing her dream of becoming a registered nurse. Bennie is dismayed to learn that Calvin is back in town and her hopes to avoid him are soon dashed as their paths continue to cross.
Although Calvin’s emotional state is much improved, he is still struggling with the series of events that led to his return to Tallgrass. Committed to his battle against the deep despair and PTSD, he is reluctant to discuss the reason for return with nearly everyone. Each day, the dark cloud is lifting, but Calvin is well aware this is a battle he will fight for the rest of his life. As he and Bennie spend time together, he realizes he needs to be honest with her about why he is in Tallgrass, but fearing her reaction, Calvin adroitly evades her probing questions.
With a little well-intentioned meddling from their families, Calvin and Bennie slowly resume their old friendship. After they finally discuss the lingering issues from the past, their relationship eventually turns romantic. Bennie notices some of the differences in Calvin’s behavior but she easily puts these changes down to his wartime experiences. He continues to hide the truth about the dark turn his life has taken from her but overall, Calvin is gradually improving despite a few momentary setbacks. Bennie is a little confused by his reluctance to take their romance to the next level, but she patiently waits until he is ready to take the next step. However, nothing can prepare her for Calvin’s confession and she is uncertain what, if any, this announcement has on their future together.
A Chance of a Lifetime is an emotional novel that realistically portrays the invisible wounds inflicted by war. Marilyn Pappano sensitively educates readers about PTSD and depression but she does not sugarcoat the harsh realities of what the future holds for both the veteran and their loved ones. As with previous installments of the Tallgrass series, the characters are multi-faceted with true to life flaws and imperfections. The storyline is impeccably developed and the romance between Calvin and Bennie builds gradually over the course of the story. While the Margarita Club plays a smaller role in this outing, the women are still on hand to lend support when needed. All in all, another warm and inviting addition to a beloved series that old and new fans are sure to love.