Last Man Standing

Kacey Hammell
Last Man Standing
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Whispers Publishing
Release Date
October 2007
Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance

For over a decade Jazz has carried the wounds of a broken heart thanks to her high school sweetheart. But since she turned thirty, her heart and body have raced for her best friend. In a moment of passion and uncontrolled desire, she realizes her friendship with Ryder could be in jeopardy. Their friendship comes first, though, and she plans to ignore her body's desires.

When her ex drops back into her life, Jazz is thrilled, scared, and eager to show the man who broke her heart just what he's been missing. She's struck speechless, however, after sharing a heated moment in her office with him, Ryder throws down the gauntlet and confesses that he's always loved her.

And he vows he won't let her go…

Book Review by JV (reviewer)
Nov 06, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
191 people found the following review helpful
LAST MAN STANDING takes the friends-to-lovers theme and gives it an unexpected spin. This story combined friends-to-lovers and second-chance themes in a rather unique twist that made me look at two of my favorite romance themes in a somewhat different light.

In high school, Ryder Donovan and Jazz Vanburren went from friends to lovers and then back to friends again when Jazz's former crush, Scott Price (nicknamed "The Playboy King" in high school), seemed to take a renewed interest in Jazz and stirred up her old feelings for him, only to leave her brokenhearted again. Fast forward to present day. Now, at 30, Jazz is the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Ryder owns and she has been best friends with Ryder and another high school friend, Eva, for all the years since she broke things off with Ryder in high school. She seems to have just about everything she needs in her life except love, the one thing that has eluded her.

With her biological clock ticking, Jazz finally seems ready to move beyond her broken heart over Scott back in high school and to get over her guilt for hurting Ryder so that she can realize her dream of a family of her own. Eva insists that Ryder always was and still is in love with Jazz and that he is really the right man for Jazz. Despite Jazz's misgivings over what it could mean to her and Ryder's friendship, she can't help but remember how good they had been together and to wonder if maybe, just maybe, they could make it work. Then, in a classic case of history repeating itself, out of the blue, Scott Price calls her up and wants to see her again.

In LAST MAN STANDING, Ryder is a devoted, long-suffering hero -- a man who ignored his broken heart and remained Jazz's friend back in high school because Jazz thought that going back to Scott would make her happy. He put his own happiness on hold for all the years since then because living with his unrequited love for Jazz is less painful than losing her as a friend if he were to try, and fail, to get her to see him as a lover again.

I wish I had seen a little bit more deeply into Jazz and Ryder's relationship, especially back in high school. Though we were told a bit about their history together, we didn't really "see" Ryder and Jazz interact together until the point at which Scott has called her after 12 or so years and wants to see her again. As a result, I didn't quite understand the intricacies of Jazz's relationship with Ryder as much as I would have liked.

I did feel great sympathy for Ryder and the pain of always having what he truly wanted just outside his grasp. For her part, Jazz has deeper feelings for Ryder that she won't let herself acknowledge, partially due to her guilt over hurting him before and partially due to "first love" syndrome, where we hold onto those memories of first love and rehash them until the relationship is totally overblown in our minds, taking on a much greater importance than it had at the time. Even so, I felt that Jazz's multiple changes of heart in this story were too abrupt for me to understand fully, and I felt a little skeptical that Scott and Jazz resolved their old hurts and fell into a close friendship so quickly and easily.

Still, I was happy in the end that the real love that had proven itself over the years prevailed. Sometimes letting go of old dreams is hard, but doing so makes it easy to reach out and grasp new dreams that we've been overlooking too long.
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