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Last Chance Llama Ranch

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From the author of Bliss comes a heartwarming tale of friendship, romance, self-discovery... and llama drama.

From Olympic skier to llama farmer? Now that is a serious jump.

When a close encounter with an eighty-foot spruce steals Merry's dreams of Olympic gold, the former ski champ finds herself falling into a career she never expected -- the life of a travel writer. Picturing glamorous trips to exotic places, Merry is speechless when her boss assigns her to the blog, "Don't Do What I Did," and sends her to, place of all places, a llama ranch. Soon she's eyeball-deep in alpacas, llamas, goats and more. But when Last Chance Llama Ranch starts to grow on her, Merry finds that ranch life, while still just as gross, might be just what she's been missing.

You know what they say... When life gives you llamas...

488 pages, Paperback

First published August 25, 2015

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About the author

Hilary Fields

4 books70 followers
Born and raised on Manhattan's Upper East Side, I've been escaping those not-so-mean streets by diving into fantasy and romance since earliest memory. I began writing my first novel, a historical romance, at sixteen and was lucky enough to have three romance novels published by the time I was 26. These days, I'm less swashbuckly and more into contemporary women's fiction, writing about quirky, determined heroines who aren't afraid of a little adventure in service to their ultimate growth and happiness. I prefer unusual settings and ballsy characters (in real life as well as fiction).

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5 stars
111 (25%)
4 stars
185 (41%)
3 stars
113 (25%)
2 stars
17 (3%)
1 star
16 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 95 reviews
Profile Image for Sheila.
952 reviews85 followers
September 29, 2015
This isn't my usual genre, but I enjoyed this lighthearted and fluffy (get it? Alpacas are fluffy) book. I especially loved Merry's columns, which were clever and entertaining.
123 reviews
July 11, 2016
I think the premise of the book is very engaging. It had to have been in order for me to even pick it up to read it. I was very disappointed in all the swearing. I read a few chapters and then chose to stop reading because of the language. I think the story could have able to be written without that element. Especially when the main character is "accused" by her editor of not writing "common" enough. The author of the novel definitely wrote "common" enough! Too common, in my opinion.
523 reviews1 follower
August 6, 2015
Loved the chit lit. Olympic skier crashes and ends up as a travel writer. Don't do what I did column sends her to a small town in New Mexico working on a llama ranch. Totally predictable but sweet story for a light summer read.
Profile Image for Anne Egbert.
830 reviews6 followers
February 23, 2016
I usually find fluffy, frothy romance novels annoying as all get out. This one was cute and worth reading, however. The llamas, alpacas and hippies, to say nothing of the other quirky characters made it all worthwhile.
Profile Image for Jennifer Gallagher.
407 reviews15 followers
July 13, 2016
This book was great. I was a bit intimidated by the length, but this wasn't too long or boring. 480 pages went by quickly. Obviously I have a llove of llamas so this book was even more up my alley, but the story was compelling and well written. I enjoyed the first person column narratives and the third person story telling. Merry was a relatable character - even though she's a trust fund baby and former olympic skier. She took a bad situation and turned it around. Even the character you don't like (Gwen) becomes likable at the end. This was not the fluffy chick-lit that I was expecting and I might check out Bliss by Ms. Fields also!
Profile Image for Lori.
167 reviews6 followers
December 29, 2015
Sometimes you just have to pick up a book with seriously cute cover art and start reading. This really was a fun book to read my friends, complete with hilarious magazine columns, loogie spitting, (yet adorable) livestock, glorious food, a barefoot cowboy and plenty of quirkiness to keep me smiling all the way to the very end. Merry Manning will keep you in stitches as she explores her new writing career in this book about second chances.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kris W.
358 reviews2 followers
July 24, 2016
2.9 stars. This quote from page 469 pretty much sums up the book: "This was getting weirder by the minute." Plus, too much bad language.
Profile Image for Amanda.
379 reviews8 followers
August 20, 2017
Fun, fluffy and flirtacious, with lots of cute farm animals to boot! Interesting characters and hilarious situations. Great as a light summer read. I received a copy of this book as a GoodReads giveaway.
Profile Image for Laura Jardine.
Author 13 books106 followers
June 1, 2016
After hearing about this novel on a book blog, I bought it pretty much based on the title . Apparently I'm unable to resist a book set on a llama ranch. And it certainly didn't disappoint.

Merry Manning was a world champion downhill skier, but after a serious accident, that chapter of her life is over, and she's still adjusting to it. She now works as a travel writer. However, her column has been changed from focusing on high-end travel to being called "Don't Do What I Did." The idea is that she will take jobs around the world to pay her way.

And that's how she ends up at Last Chance, a llama and alpaca ranch in New Mexico.

So it's a journey of self-discovery while surrounded by "fluffies" (aka llamas and alpacas) and quirky characters.

Yeah, this story is really full of quirky. Like, there's a guy who essentially lives in a hobbit hole and never wears shoes. A couple of aging hippies named Steve Spirit Wind and Mazel Tov who live in an old school bus. Merry's real name is actually Meriadoc (from Lord of the Rings), and her brother is a supermodel. She calls him "banana hammock." Cafe con Kvetch is owned by Needlepoint Bob, who makes intricate designs in latte foam, likes quoting philosophers, etc. The animals have names like Dashiell Hammett, Fred Astaire, and Snape. There's a knitting/crocheting group called the Happy Hookers, and one of the members makes "dystopian knitwear." The book also introduced me to amigurumi, which is adorable, and I now want to learn how to crochet. (Look it up. Seriously.)

If the description of the book appeals to you...I think you'll like this book. If the above makes you roll your eyes...then maybe not.

Last Chance Llama Ranch is entertaining and a little off-beat, but with the sort of personal journey that's common in women's fiction. The ending got a tiny bit sappy for me, but overall, I really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Mimi.
575 reviews
December 22, 2015
A rural town in New Mexico with llama ranchers, a wayward cowboy - esque dude named Sam who who lives in a Hobbit Hole, a well-endowed cafe owner who looks like Jerry Garcia and does needlepoint, Happy Hookers (meaning crocheters of course), hippies, yodelers, and more...the perfect place for an ex - Olympiad whose career was cut short by a devastating ski accident to reinvent herself.

Cute idea, fast read, with a slightly disjointed and predictable story line. My favorite parts involved Merry's experiences with the Fluffies and her impressions of the beautiful landscape she experienced. Makes me want to sink my arms into a fluffy alpaca :)!
Profile Image for Megan.
897 reviews
August 16, 2016
This book was one of my library's readers choice books, which I usually quite enjoy. I started this book, while waiting for my daughter to get out of surgery--I wished it wasn't the only book I brought, because while I can tell it would be a story I could enjoy, even make me laugh, it has entirely too much bad language in it. I really read 100 pages more than I should have, but I didn't have anything else to do during the wait, so I tried to skim over the numerous times she used the f word. It's a shame, because I did like the story I read, but I have to move this book to my "didn't finish shelf."
Profile Image for Marta.
501 reviews4 followers
October 15, 2015
Merry Manning is a former Olympic skier with a messed up leg. She lands a job writing a travel column- Don't Do what I Did! for an on line magazine, and through this ends up at a llama farm in the middle of nowhere.

It is easy to care for the colorfully written characters of Agua Milagros. Merry definitely has cringe worth moments, but Fields doesn't take the easy way and plant a twenty something girl drinking in bars to find funny scenes. Instead she puts Merry on a unique adventure that leads to personal growth and just happens to include a pretty studly guy.
Profile Image for Dianne.
72 reviews
January 11, 2017
Really enjoyed this book. Very meta how she writes the typical romance trope while Merry lives a very different reality. This book contains so many fun references to LOTR just added to the fun for me. There was more than laughs and I felt really touched by the mother daughter relationship. I had a little trouble getting into it but so worth sticking with it. Will be looking for more work by this author.
Profile Image for Holly Keimig.
565 reviews
November 12, 2015
50 Book Reading Challenge: A book by a female author

This one was only a few pages short of 500, but well worth the read. The cover caught my eye and I had to read it! I will definitely check out other books by her. The story was well-paced and the romance sweet. Also, I got to see real alpacas while reading this--icing on the cake! :) Well worth the length!
Profile Image for Kayla Hammel.
17 reviews
March 11, 2016
this book was fantastic! I loved every minute of it and now want to visit all the llama ranches and pet alpacas and be trampled by baby goats! It was very inspiring when it came to Merry's struggles with both pleasing her mother and feeling like a failure for her injuries. Don't miss a chance to take a trip to this llama ranch!
Profile Image for Seaira.
6 reviews13 followers
January 2, 2016
Really enjoyed this book! I actually work at a book store and discovered this while straightening our shelves. I definitely wasn't expecting to look up and see a llama staring back at me. However, I just couldn't resist that face and purchased it on a whim. Was not disappointed, very cute book.
Profile Image for Polly.
1,550 reviews5 followers
July 29, 2016
What a warm hearted, fun book. I found myself laughing out loud and with a tear in my eye while reading this. Hilary Fields deals with real life situations with humor and dignity. I can't wait for her next book.
Profile Image for Eaweishaupl.
179 reviews
May 2, 2016
I really liked this book. Great characters great location, around Taos, and a good redemption story. Oh and llamas and alpacas
277 reviews
June 18, 2021
DNF - Too much profanity - right from the beginning. I prefer to avoid that, so I did not choose to read more than a few pages.
Profile Image for A. R..
Author 3 books44 followers
March 8, 2017

After reading through a chapter or two, I decided I just didn't care for the amount of profanity in this book. Decided not to be offended, just not read it.
October 10, 2018
Merry is a thirty-something single woman with a new career in travel blogging. Prior to her world travels, she was a very successful Olympic medalist in skiing. But after a career-ending ski accident, she comes to terms with the fact the one thing that she loved the most was no longer available to her... and the pain from the numerous surgeries is often too much to bear.

When the website she works for realizes that readers can't relate to the extravagant travels, due to the recession, Merry comes up with a new column—(Don't Do What I Did. This takes her to a llama farm in the middle-of-nowhere, New Mexico. She is immediately met with a warm welcome from the Last Chance Llama Ranch owner, Dolly... and a surprising greeting from a llama. When she meets Dolly's nephew, Sam, who helps Dolly run the place, the welcome is far from welcome.

Since Dolly is temporarily down a ranch hand, Merry agrees to work on the ranch and blog about her experience, being compensated with room and board. Merry keeps her readers intrigued by romanticizing her adventure a bit, all while blogging at the local cafe—the only real place to get (less than average) internet access.

Her height and inexperience with small towns (and ranching) make her standout like a sore thumb, but because of her hard work and true care for the people of the town, she becomes a treasured guest, especially after the area experiences an influx of visitors and orders of their homemade products.

Merry finds herself in another near-death experience in the snow—this time trying to save the life of a llama and her new baby. From this point on, Merry quickly finds she unfairly judged someone, makes mends, and helps Dolly save her on-the-verge-of-shutting-down ranch... and she falls in love in the meantime.

This was like reading a Hallmark movie—although not quite as cheesy, and with a bit more PG-13 content thrown in. From the beginning, I had a strong feeling she would end up with Sam—it was just a matter of time. I really enjoyed the second-half of the book, as the story seemed to speed up a bit. From the success of online fundraising for the local teens, to the threats made toward Dolly and the ranch from her ex-husband, to the first sparks (pun intended ;) of Merry and Sam's romantic relationship, to Merry's family unexpectedly coming to down, per Dolly's plan, Merry comes to face some personal demons she's faced—insecurity of her body, rocky relationship with her mother, and the fear of the unknown future.

Overall, I found the book very delightful and enjoyable, and think it really would make a fun movie. There were a few times where I thought—wow, this would be really fun to be watching. :) I loved the characters, and was so happy to see Merry and Sam together... and for Merry find her place.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lauren Acquaviva.
27 reviews11 followers
March 6, 2023
This was a cute distraction. 2.5 stars is a decent romance rating for me because it means I finished it and, at least to some extent, liked it…it’s not perfect, and I skimmed some sections, but in the grand scheme of contemporary romance novels (which are indeed fluff) this is well done. I especially appreciated that this was less graphic than others of the genre.

Without summarizing the plot I’ll just hit the highlights - -

What I liked:

- I enjoyed the writing-within-writing aspect of her ongoing job during her time at the ranch. It allowed for not only some clever wordplay but also some tension between the main characters, some fourth wall jokes that I laughed at, etc.

- The animals won me over from the start (as the friend who recommended this surely knew they would), llama effluvia and all!

- Sam isn’t my usual type, but I found Merry’s ongoing absurd novelization of him to be somehow just the thing to make him more endearing as he really was - - that is, for every inaccuracy she engages in on the blog, I liked his grumpiness in real life more.

- Making the heroine the character with such a confident physical ability in her past, followed by a life-altering injury, is a refreshing twist from the usual war heroes or rugby players and the super-sexy nursemaids-slash-secretaries that are just lining up to fix them that seem to be swarming goodreads at the moment. I’m sorry, but I am not lithe and confident enough to identify with you, Kayleighs of the world. Clumsy and uncertain Merry, on the other hand, is someone I can understand. Including the penchant for depressive wallowing...and occasionally dropping off the face of the earth on purpose.

- It’s short, but not so short that it feels cut off. I wanted something that would keep me occupied for an evening but not draw me in for a whole week…asked around, and Josiah M. delivered with this recommendation. Thank you!

What I didn’t like:

- The twee aspect is over the top. I too am a connoisseur of cute, but I don’t need to read about it quite so much. I also don’t think we need to call animals “fluffies” and if I could have performed a find-and-replace for myself on this it would have spared some eye rolling.

- I think this suffers from a lack of Sam’s perspective. What are his thoughts? We get Merry’s, and it’s good so far as that goes, but there’s unexplored territory here and a good editor might have pushed this in a different direction to include more of his point of view.

- It might be nice to show Sam & Merry spending more time…you know…together? Talking, walking, eating, working…? Whatever. Dolly and the rest of the supporting cast are wonderful, and through them we get to see the kind of human relationships that make this book stand out as better than other contemporary novels, but they displace some of the romance in the process. And by ‘displace’ I mean they barely interact. Until the end, when they do all at once.
Profile Image for Veronique Wilbrink.
433 reviews11 followers
October 5, 2021
Deze recensie is eerder verschenen op Koukleum.nl.

Ik was erg benieuwd naar dit boek. Er lijkt een kleine trend te ontstaan met lama’s of alpaca’s in feelgood boeken en daar heb ik absoluut niks op tegen. De dieren hebben voor mijn gevoel altijd een hoog knuffelgehalte, dus passen ze perfect in dit genre.

Het boek begint met een proloog die je meteen nieuwsgierig maakt naar de rest van het verhaal. Je merkt al vrij snel dat Fields een luchtige en hilarische manier van schrijven heeft. Het boek leest dan ook ontzettend makkelijk weg en ik merkte dat ik onder het lezen moeite had om het boek weg te leggen. Er gebeuren zoveel dingen op de Last Change Llama Ranch dat je gewoon iedere keer nieuwsgierig blijft wat er nu weer gebeurd.

De hoofdpersonages zijn goed uitgewerkt. Hierdoor heb je een goed beeld van hun en kun je je als lezer ook erg goed in de personages verplaatsen. Je begrijpt bepaalde keuzes en reacties hierdoor erg goed en dat is voor mij ook een teken dat Fields de personages erg menselijk heeft neergezet, ook al komen er een aantal heel zonderlinge personages voorbij. Maar ook deze zonderlinge personages kun je zo in je hart sluiten. Je merkt dat de bewoners van Aguas Milagros echt van hun stadje houden en je merkt dat Merry zich ook steeds beter op haar gemak gaat voelen in dit kleine plaatsje.

Fields heeft met dit boek een hilarische feelgood neer weten te zetten, waar wel al snel duidelijk wordt tussen wie de liefde zich zal ontwikkelen, maar het boek is veel meer dan dat. Het boek gaat ook over zelfvertrouwen, ergens bij horen, eigenwaarde, vriendschap, je thuis voelen en je eigen ding doen.

Dit was voor mij de eerste kennismaking met Hilary Fields, maar ik ga haar zeker verder in de gaten houden, want ik zou graag meer van haar hand willen lezen.
67 reviews1 follower
January 20, 2023
Need some laughs, want to cozy up with a town of odd but fun loving people that will warm your heart or maybe you need a dose of someone else's crazy dysfunctional loving family, then this is the book for you. I recommend taking some time to connect with these characters while more then one of them transform themselves.

Hilary's writing provides laughs and chuckles galore. Her town of people and family are just loveable and forget about the llamas, alpacas and goats. I just love all their names.

I'm giving this book ♦️♦️♦️♦️. I initially had a little trouble getting started. I kept going and am absolutely glad I did. It was well worth the slow start. One thing I felt though that was just off with the story was Merry's medical bills. I understood her agent/handler didn't pay her premiums. What I couldn't fathom was that as wealthy as her parents were in the book, there was no way they wouldn't have paid those medical bills. There daughter almost died and lost her way of making a living. I could see them letting her figure out what she wanted to do with her life, but I don't see how the described parents wouldn't have at least left her without the burden of those particular bills after her recovery. I would have preferred less profanity but that goes along with the characters vernacular.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Stacy Stosich.
291 reviews10 followers
December 17, 2018
I picked this up when I was quickly snatching a bunch of books off the shelf before the library closed (mostly picking the readers choice books). This was an entertaining romance novel. At first it seems like it's a bit too...flamboyant and in your face. There is a fairly gratuitous sex scene in an airplane at the beginning. It doesn't get THAT explicit, but meh. Also, the writer LOOOOVES five dollar words. It's like she's obsessed with trying to find some witty turn of phrase. But at the same time she uses words like "squee" a lot (as well as a ton of F bombs). However. I eventually got sucked in--she does a great job at setting the scene on this quaint llama ranch and really making you want to live in rural New Mexico. You can't help falling in love with all the quirky characters in the small town. The romance aspect was entertaining (though predictable, of course). I came to appreciate her obsession with the thesaurus since I am a word nerd myself too. Honestly it's nice sometimes to read a romance novel that's not so....basic. A lot of romance novels are soooo forgettable and not well-written. I wouldn't exactly call the writing in this book art, but the author is clearly an intelligent woman, and it's a book that was somewhat memorable at least.
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