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    Review of SOPHIE'S LAST STAND by Nancy Bartholomew (see her website)

    Silhouette Bombshell, May 2005

    Now that her porn-king ex-husband is safely in prison, Sophie Mazaratti has moved from Philly to New Bern, North Carolina, to start a new life. The rest of her family has already migrated there. She's bought a cool old house to renovate, and she wants to forget that her ex put naked pictures of her on the Internet.

    But trouble follows her. Someone wants something she supposedly has, but she has no idea what it could be. When she finds out Nick (her ex) has been released from prison, she believes he is behind the mischief (break-ins, bullets flying, cars exploding). But the FBI--and local cop Gray Evans think she might know more than she's telling.

    This book was great fun. Sophie and her extended family are all characters, and their innovative ways of dealing with problems made me laugh out loud sometimes. The romance subplot was sexy, and I liked both Sophie and Gray.

    But the ending of the book didn't quite click for me. There was a paranormal element that was never foreshadowed and felt like it had been spliced from a different book. The ultimate bad guy turned out to be someone we'd never seen or heard of. And frankly, though the heroine is tough and fearless and can definitely handle herself in a crisis, about the third time her new home is violated, I had to wonder why she didn't do a better job of protecting herself? She and her loved ones have been shot at, her home broken into multiple times, her car torched, and she's been physically attacked and carjacked. But then she blithely gets in her car and drives off for ice cream with her sister with no thought to her own safety or that of those around her. She repeatedly refuses or ducks police protection. The bad-ass FBI agent who appeared early in the book and looks to be a powerful adversary disappears, to return only briefly at the end of the book. And Sophie was much more of a spectator than an active participant in the final confrontation with the forces of evil. She hears voices in her basement and instead of calling the police and getting the hell out of there, she goes down the stairs to get a closer look.

    Bottom line--the first two thirds of this book were strong, but the ending turned out to be a let-down for me. Still, if you're wanting to read about interesting characters and a funny family, and laugh out loud in places, you'll find this book repays the read.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 6/26/05

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