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LAST CHANCE LLAMA RANCH by Hilary Fields Kirkus Star


by Hilary Fields

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-316-27742-6
Publisher: Redhook/Orbit

A former Olympian finds herself working on a llama ranch in Fields’ (Bliss, 2013) charming new novel.

Merry Manning’s dreams of winning gold for the U.S. Olympic ski team are dashed when she's injured in a horrific accident on the slopes. Broke and struggling to deal with her life post-injury, she scores a job writing a travel column for the online magazine Pulse. When her pieces aren’t garnering enough page views, her boss proposes a new idea for her column: “Don’t Do What I Did.” The plan is to show a different side of travel, and her first assignment has Merry working as a ranch hand for the Last Chance Llama Ranch located in Aguas Milagros, New Mexico. At the ranch, Merry meets owner Dorothy “Dolly” Cassidy, a down-to-earth caretaker to a veritable herd of llamas, alpacas, goats, and other animals. Then there is Dolly’s nephew, Sam Cassidy, who instantly judges Merry as a wealthy snob looking to exploit the locals and terrify the animals. Life on the ranch is tough for Merry, and her prior injuries make the actual ranch work almost impossible, but she refuses to let on how difficult it is for her even to walk when she's being asked to trek up a mountain or carry a heavy load. Truth is, though Merry can barely make ends meet, she has another choice—meet with her parents and settle the inheritance from her grandmother that would have set her up for the rest of her life. But to Merry, that is not an option: at 6-foot-3-inches and clumsy, she has always felt like an outsider in her parents’ world of high society and is intent on making her own way, even after all that she has lost. The novel is interspersed with posts from Merry’s online column—in which grumpy and aloof Sam is cast as the romantic hero and the quirky locals of Aguas Milagros steal the show.

An engrossing story with a unique cast of characters—both human and animal—written in a unique and confident voice.