I received this book from Netgalley for review consideration.
The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle
Published by Harlequin MIRA on September 30th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Debut, Family Life, Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers
Add on Goodreads
From a remarkable new voice in suspenseful women's fiction comes an emotionally searing drama about a woman who risks her life to discover the devastating truth about her family…
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…
The Last Breath has joined an ever-growing list of 2014 releases that have left me struggling to coherently share my thoughts with you. It’s been a couple of weeks since I finished reading, and I still don’t have all the words to fully articulate just how wonderful The Last Breath was, but I’m going to try anyway.
Belle’s debut primarily centers around Gia Andrews, a humanitarian worker who has done everything she possibly can to avoid returning to her home town.
Sixteen years ago, her father brutally murdered her step-mother. Or did he? For sixteen years Gia and her siblings, Lexi and Bo, in fact the whole neighborhood, have presumed that Ray Andrews was guilty of murdering Ella Mae.
Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ray has been transferred from high-security prison, and is under house arrest. Gia has to return to the scene of the murder to care for her dying father. He doesn’t have long left, but can she forgive him?
Can she convince her siblings to come home and see him? Can she uncover the truth?
And in the midst of this, Gia meets Jake. The owner of a local bar who landed in Gia’s hometown in search of his own answers.
I wasn’t even a quarter of the way in to The Last Breath before I was hooked. Belle’s writing reeled me in, slowly at first and then BAM, I couldn’t put it down! The only qualm I had with this book was that it didn’t keep me guessing quite long enough (but I think Mary Kubica ruined that for me with The Good Girl). I figured out a few things pretty early on, and while it didn’t take away from my reading experience, the suspense went away.
But then the ending…
I went from tears of sadness to tears of joy (after flipping back a few pages to make sure I hadn’t misread anything) within a few pages. I may have even held my breath!