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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Last Exchange

Narrator: Joshua Manning,

MacLeod Andrews

ISBN: 9780785255970

Publisher: Thomas-Nelson

Publication Date: 10/03/2023

Format: Hardcover, Audiobook

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

“Here’s the catch—even if I make it out of here alive, I need a reason to breathe again.”

When Mac Thomas Pockets finished his last tour as part of the Scottish Special Forces, he was hired to consult for a film director to finesse some scenes that weren’t working. In a twist he never saw coming, he ended up moving to L.A. to work as the bodyguard for movie star Maybe Joe Sue.

It didn’t take long for Pockets to realize there were two Joe Sues: The Joe Sue the public saw with her perfect life and her Hollywood husband. And the private Joe Sue: the one with the traumatic youth that no amount of pills could cover up, who desperately wanted a child of her own.

Even after their paths diverged, he continued to track Joe Sue’s life. Only a few would notice when the bottom fell out. But he did. And that’s when he stepped in.

The latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Charles Martin travels from Hollywood to rural Montana as one man answers the question: How far would you go—really—to save someone you love?

Suspenseful, emotion-filled contemporary fiction

Stand-alone novel

Includes discussion questions for book clubs

Also by Charles Martin: The Mountains Between Us, The Water Keeper, and Chasing Fireflies

Buy the Book

My Review

Charles Martin returns following his Murphy Shepherd series with his latest standalone, THE LAST EXCHANGE. From Hollywood to Montana, an unlikely pair, a Scottish bodyguard and a former waitress/Hollywood star, team up as their paths diverge in this complex tale of love and sacrifice.

Kelly MacThomas Pockets (known as Pockets) in his early forties, fit and raised in Scotland, and later with the Scottish Special Forces (classified). Most recently, he was hired to consult for a film director to help with some of the scenes, then moved to LA to work as a bodyguard to a movie star, Maybe Joe Sue. Pockets has seen much, often quiet and an enigma.

"Scars are just the body's response to things that shouldn't be there. A reminder of pain."

Maybe Joe Sue came from a poor, traumatic background as a diner waitress and has made it to Hollywood. However, she is addicted to pills and wants desperately to have a child. She’s married to a narcissistic actor, Syd. She has endured multiple trips to a fertility clinic, and all has failed. She has had a tough childhood and is looking for love and validation. She returns to the pills to pull her through when she can't get it.

She has been in rehab more times than she can count. Oxy was her go-to, alternating between Adderall, Ambien, Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and trazodone. Something to stay awake. Then, something to sleep or keep sleeping. Up and down. Then, her surrogate disappears. She is devastated. She is kidnapped.

Pockets will protect and love her even if he has to go to extremes to help this woman and give her what she desires. How far would you go to save someone you love?

Alternating between before and after, the past and present slowly unraveled. In Charles Martin's signature fashion, a budding romance. The loyal, caring, strong protector defends the flawed, troubled woman.

I have been an avid fan of Charles Martin for many years since his first book, and have read all his fiction books and some of his non-fiction. While I have always enjoyed his beautiful writing and storytelling, his last two books and this one are different than the older emotional literary stories I long for from Charles. I own all his hardcover books except this one and the last two. His storyline seems to be changing, and often, it does not seem like the same author. Unfortunately, these last few are 4 stars instead of his usual 5 glowing stars.

I would love to see Charles go back to writing similar to his earlier novels, When Crickets Cry, Chasing Fireflies (all-time favorites), Water From My Heart, and all those in between to The Water Keeper. But the second and third Murphy Sheperd series and this one, The Last Exchange, appear to be moving towards the thriller genre and away from the beautiful Southern emotional literary fiction I adored that made Charles Martin so famous. His writing seems more commercialized and contemporary, and I am saddened by the change from my favorite author.

CON: This is a sweet story of love and sacrifice if you can get through it. I read the e-book and listened to the audiobook narrated by Joshua Manning and MacLeod Andrews, both outstanding narrators. However, every time he spoke, the 'mum' from Pockets to Joe Sue drove me nuts! I could not finish the audiobook. It was so distracting. It sounded like a child talking to his mom. Also, reading the e-book was repetitive and distracting for the same reason. The audio was much worse because you had to hear it. I would not recommend the audiobook.

I was teetering between 3-4 stars for a while on this one, but it is Charles Martin, so I will stick with the 4. However, the audiobook would be a 3 or less, not due to the narrator but to the writing of 'mum' throughout the book.

Fingers crossed, Charles will return to the type of books fans grew to love and his earlier storylines with more emotional depth. I like him for literary fiction. Even though I do like thrillers—not from Charles. I am looking for something deeper and more meaningful. His earlier books are classics!

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for an ARC and ALC in exchange for an honest review.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4 Stars

Pub Date: Oct 3, 2023


About the Author

Christy and I married in 1993. If you include dating, I’ve known and loved her for more than half my life. She is and always will be the home for my heart. We have three boys. Charlie, John T. and Rives. Folks often ask me, which of my books do I like the best. You might as well line up my sons and ask me who I love the most.

My hobbies are bow hunting, working out (a blend of old school stuff and martial arts, called Fight Fit) and Tae Kwon Do. In October 2012 I earned my black belt but I’m still the least flexible person you’ve ever met. The guy that trains me, laughs everytime I start warming up. My boys are far better at Tae Kwon Do than I but I doubt they have as much fun – I get to do and watch. They just do.

I also like to write, but that’s another story.

Charles Martin







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