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The Last Breath    by Kimberly Belle order for
Last Breath
by Kimberly Belle
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2014 (2014)
Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Sixteen years ago, Gia Andrews ran away from her home and family. Her father's conviction of the brutal murder of her stepmother ruined their family name. Gia refused to stay in town and face their neighbours on a daily basis. Instead she puts all her energy into chasing disasters as a humanitarian aid worker. But when her uncle sends word that Gia's father is dying and has been released from prison to say his goodbyes, she no longer has a valid excuse to stay half a world away.

With rabid protestors who don't give the family a moment's peace, trying to reconcile with her siblings, and her father's and uncles' continued insistence that the wrong man went to prison, Gia finds herself pulled in a dozen different directions as she tries to discover the truth about what actually happened the night her stepmother, Ella Mae, died. Finding herself falling into a heated affair with the local tavern owner creates even more turmoil as past and present meld toward an unexpected conclusion.

Belle's debut shows a real knack for characterization, dialogue and setting, particularly in the flashbacks showing Ella Mae's discontent with her life. The author's plotline is ambitious, but unfortunately I found it overwritten in the present day scenes, which bogged down the overall pacing of the story.

Gia doesn't seem truly invested in discovering the truth surrounding Ella Mae's murder, especially after she receives the news that her father's death is only days away, rather than months. Romance overshadows her quest, as does her constant squabbling with her siblings, which becomes tedious. In the end, the circumstances surrounding Ella Mae's demise fizzle, as does another big revelation that I'd already figured out halfway through the story.

Even so, I did find myself wanting to find out what happened next and look forward to the author's next release.

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