I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This is my favorite type of Mystery novel. It kept me guessing until the very end and had a sweet romance on the side.
Although it is set in the 80’s it’s more a subtle nod to the era than an overindulgent stereotype. There were a few mentions of the crazy fashions and totally tubular way people spoke at the time, but it never got to be too much.
This is also a more adult novel than the author’s previous works. I have a hard time using words like “mature content” to describe it because that makes it seem like there is a lot of cursing, sex, and violence in the book. While there is more cursing, sex, and violence in After Last Call than the author’s YA novels, that makes sense because the book isn’t for young adults. However, the sex scenes are “fade to black”, the violence is never gory, and the cursing is at a minimum.
The story is about a young woman, Lola, who has just found out that the man she dropped everything for and moved across the country with a couple of years ago, is cheating on her. Lola is not the type of woman to simply accept cheating so she does the smart thing and leaves him. She is dead broke, but instead of curling up in a ball and accepting defeat, she uses the betrayal of her ex as inspiration to get her life back on track. She stops partying, goes back to school, and finds a great new job as a bartender to help make ends meet.
The author really painted a believable picture of what it must have been like to be a twenty something in the 80’s. For the first time, I really understand how cocaine could have become such a huge problem in that decade. People thought of it as a harmless status symbol instead of the addictive substance we know it to be today.
Even Lola used the drug at the beginning of the story, and she didn’t realize how much it was hurting her until she stopped. I felt like it was a little too easy for her to kick the habit, but I was also happy not to have to deal with reading about her withdrawal symptoms so I’m not complaining.
Now that the cocaine portion of my review is finished, let’s get to the good stuff, the romance and mystery!
The relationship between Lola and Sam goes from blazing hot to freezing so quickly that I was worried they would never get things together, but it ended up being pretty great romance. I got frustrated with Lola and felt like she was too hard on Sam at first. But when I considered that she was just getting out of a bad relationship and that she barely knew Sam, I was actually relieved to see a heroine protect herself for once. She made Sam work to earn her trust, and that’s exactly what she should have done.
The Mystery was very well done. I figured out a few things before they were revealed, but there was still plenty left to surprise me. I had no idea who the murderer was, and the ending was very exciting. This is not the type of Mystery that keeps you on pins and needles the entire time you are reading Instead, it lulls you into a false sense of security and then hits you with the intensity when you least expect it.
If I had to describe this book in one word, I think I would call it “cool” because it was very laid back, but never boring. It’s a wonderful blend of mystery, romance, and self discovery with just a touch of the 80’s to keep things extra interesting. The romance was passionate and fun without being too descriptive, and it’s a great book for a rainy day. There is also a bonus cookbook at the end of the book for all you foodies out there. It’s got some great Cuban dishes that I can’t wait to try myself!
P.S. I have been reading a ton of books that are a part of series lately so it was a real treat to read a standalone novel for once!
Because of violence, language, and mild sexual content, I would recommend this book for ages 17 and up. There are no descriptive sex scenes.