Last Chance Bride


By Hope Ramsay

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 4, 2012. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Dear Reader,

My boy Stone has always been the quiet one in the family, but now he’s got the whole town talking. He and his long-time sweetheart Sharon are crazy about each other, but suddenly they can’t see eye-to-eye on their future. Sharon thought they were going to go to college, then get married. But Stone had other plans–plans he didn’t share with anyone.

So it looks like our resident matchmaker Miriam is going to be wrong for the first time ever. She swears Sharon and Stone are true soul mates. Well, I think between the broken promises and Sharon’s meddling mother, these two kids are going to need a miracle to make it down the aisle. . .

There’s Arlene-I just need to finish her trim and then I can head over to the Watermelon Festival. Be sure to stop back by the Cut ‘n’ Curl for hot rollers, free coffee-and the best gossip in town.

See you real soon,

Ruby Rhodes


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Table of Contents

An Excerpt from Last Chance Christmas

An Excerpt from Last Chance Book Club


Copyright Page

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Wednesday, August 1, 1990

"Sharon Anne McKee, you quit your wiggling now, you hear?" Mother looked up at Sharon with a gleam in her dark eyes. "I'm not about to let my daughter show up as this year's Watermelon Queen with an uneven hem."

Sharon redoubled her efforts to stand still as Mother fussed with the yards of pink and green tulle that comprised her Watermelon Queen dress. She didn't need Mother going ballistic today of all days. Sharon had too much to do. And besides, when Mother got upset, the world tipped over on its side. It was easier to suck it up and do what Mother wanted.

Sharon stood there for five minutes, until she couldn't stand still anymore. She put on her sweetest voice: "Mother, I really appreciate your helping with the dress, but please remember that I'm chairing the bake sale and blood drive for Crystal Murphy this afternoon at city hall."

"I'm going as fast as I can," Mother huffed.

Which wasn't fast enough to suit Sharon. But she held her tongue, because if she said anything else, Mother would purposefully slow down. Sharon anxiously watched the minutes tick away on the kitchen clock. Mother always made her late.

Finally Sharon's patience broke. "Mother, you pinned that section already. It doesn't have to be perfect, you know. It's not like it's my wedding dress."

Mother's head came up with a glower. "This dress most certainly isn't a wedding dress," she said. "And when you get married, you'll be wearing white and marrying a man with a college degree. Is that clear?" Mother's eyebrows arched.

"Yes, ma'am."

"And I expect you to marry a young man from a quality family, like the people you come from. Why, when I was a girl in Charleston, I had at least a dozen beaux, and all of them were from the best families in town."

Oh boy, that was a bold-faced fib if Sharon had ever heard one. Unfortunately, Mother had been fibbing about her background for so long that she no longer remembered the truth. She may have been born in Charleston, but Sharon's granddaddy was a dockworker. And Sharon's daddy wasn't from a rich family either, even if he had gone to college and become a bank manager. Daddy had died from a heart attack two years ago, and Mother had never been quite the same. She lived her life in a kind of dream world in which Sharon was the next best thing to a debutante. Being selected this year's Watermelon Queen didn't help any when it came to Mother's delusions.

Sharon squared her shoulders and fixed her gaze on the wall. There was no point in trying to get Mother to see the world as it truly was. Besides, Sharon was in no hurry to get married. Not even to Stony Rhodes, her boyfriend, who would also be a freshman at Carolina this fall.

"And another thing," Mother said through the pins clenched in her teeth. "When you get to college, you will remember that you are a refined southern lady. There will be boys up there who just want to take advantage of you. Don't let them lead you down a garden path, if you know what I mean."

Sharon knew exactly what Mother meant. She had plans to encourage Stony to do a little bit of that sort of thing. Sharon had even made a secret appointment with Planned Parenthood and was now in possession of a diaphragm for the moment when she and Stony finally did the deed. But that wouldn't be until they got up to Columbia together.

Mother would have apoplexy if Sharon ever went to the Peach Blossom Motor Court, like other kids did on prom night. That was too risky, what with Lillian Bray always checking out the parking lot. Since Daddy had died, Sharon had avoided conflicts with Mother. So waiting was the wisest choice all the way around. There would be plenty of time up at Carolina.

The back screen door creaked open and slammed shut, and Stony's eight-year-old sister, Rocky, waltzed into Mother's kitchen like she owned the place.

"Hey, Miz McKee," Rocky said as she skidded to a stop. As usual, the little girl's dark, curly hair was in complete disarray, and her knees were so grubby it would probably take steel wool to clean them. She was barefoot.

Mother straightened and glared at Rocky. "Hasn't your mother ever taught you any manners? You don't just walk into other people's houses without knocking. Can't you see we're busy?"

"Oh, sorry."

"Mother, we're not that busy," Sharon said, practicing her best Watermelon Queen smile on the little girl.

Rocky grinned up at her. "Holy moly, Sharon, you look like Cinderella."

"Well, that may be, but I don't want to become Cinderella," Sharon said.

"Why? Cinderella gets the prince, doesn't she?"

"There's more to life than marrying a prince," Sharon replied.

Mother frowned. "There is?"

"Yes, Mother. The reason I'm going to college is not to find a prince. I'm going there to get a degree in social work." The truth was, Sharon had already found a prince. Right here in Last Chance, and he lived next door.

Mother blinked. "Sharon, I'm glad you want an education, but social work? It's so demanding and depressing. Couldn't you study something a little happier? You're a talented piano student. Why not study music or liberal arts?"

"Because I don't want to be a musician. And majoring in liberal arts is like studying nothing very useful. I want to help people in trouble, Mother, and for that I need a degree in social work."

"Well, in my opinion, Miss High and Mighty, you ought to be interested in the opportunities college will give you to meet nice, eligible men."

Presumably these would be the nice men who weren't interested in leading her "down a garden path." Boy, there were some serious blind spots in Mother's worldview. Mother just didn't understand what Sharon wanted to do with her life.

Mother took that moment to glance at the kitchen clock. "Good gracious, Sharon, it's ten minutes to one. You're going to be late for the blood drive. Although why you want to give blood as a Watermelon Queen is beyond me."

"Because Crystal Murphy needs another operation and her family has no health insurance." Crystal Murphy was six years old, and one of Sharon's Sunday school kids. She'd broken her pelvis last spring when a bad storm had hit the trailer park up in Allenberg. The Murphys were living in a double-wide because Hurricane Hugo had flooded them out last fall.

"Oh," Mother said, "I didn't know."

There was no sense in reminding Mother that Reverend Reed had made a special request for help from the pulpit last Sunday. So she kept her mouth shut and escaped down the hallway to her room. Rocky followed like a little shadow.

"I feel sorry for Crystal," Rocky said.

"So do I." Sharon smiled at the little girl. "So, what have you been up to today?"

"Nothing much. No one wants to play with me. Clay is in the backyard with Ray building a tree house. Tulane is trying to help them, but they say he's too little, and they're being mean to him. Stone's at the store. And I'm bored." She plopped down on Sharon's bed.

"It's summertime. You shouldn't be bored," Sharon said as she removed her dress and hung it on a padded hanger.

Rocky shrugged. "I don't have anything to do. And Savannah's gone home to Maryland. It's always so cool when she comes to visit. Her granddaddy lets us sit up in the projection room at the Kismet." The little girl took a big breath. "So are you and Stone going to sit in the back row tonight and kiss?"

Heat crawled right up Sharon's face. "Rocky Rhodes, that's not a nice question. And if you're bored, how would you like to help me and the rest of the Watermelon Court at the bake sale?"

"You mean it?"

"Sure, I need some help carrying cupcakes. But you'll have to put on shoes and wash your knees."


  • "4 1/2 stars! Get ready for a story to remember...with characters that define eccentric, off the wall and bonkers, but most of all they're enchantingly funny and heartwarmingly charming."—RT Book Reviews
  • "Hope Ramsay has penned an irresistible tale in LAST CHANCE BEAUTY QUEEN with its unforgettable characters and laugh out loud scenes. Watch how an opposites-attract couple find their way to each other...and a possible future. Grab this today and get ready for a rollicking read."—
  • "[A] little Bridget Jones meets Sweet Home Alabama.—

On Sale
Sep 4, 2012
Page Count
40 pages
Forever Yours

Hope Ramsay

About the Author

Hope Ramsay is a USA Today bestselling author of heartwarming contemporary romances set below the Mason-Dixon Line. Her children are grown, but she has a couple of fur babies who keep her entertained. Pete the cat, named after the cat in the children’s books, thinks he’s a dog, and Daisy the dog thinks Pete is her best friend except when he decides her wagging tail is a cat toy. Hope lives in the medium-sized town of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and when she’s not writing or walking the dog, she spends her time knitting and noodling around on her collection of guitars.

You can learn more at:
Twitter @HopeRamsay

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