There is something so quietly compelling about The Last Good Man, by Kathleen Eagle, that I struggle with writing this review. I don’t know how to describe it, other than to say that The Last Good Man is one good book.
Savannah Stephens has returned home to Sunbonnet, Wyoming, from which she escaped after high school, intent on a modeling career. She achieved it, landing in a catalog similar to Victoria’s Secret. But when she comes home, she is several years removed from the limelight … and she brings a young daughter with her.
Clay Keogh, Savannah’s best friend from childhood, didn’t quite stay in Sunbonnet. He joined the military, eschewing his dream of being a veterinarian, but he’s been back long enough to have married and divorced. When he hears Savannah is in town, he is nervous and anticipates seeing her. Their first meeting exceeds every expectation he had.
He touched his lips to hers, tentative only for an instant. His hunger was as unmistakable as hers. His arms closed around her slight shoulders, hers around his lean waist. He smelled of horsehide and leather, and tasted of whiskey, felt as solid as the Rockies, and kissed like no man she’d ever known, including a younger Clay Keogh. She stood on tiptoe to kiss him back, trade him her breath for his, her tongue for his.
We discover that Savannah is hiding more than one secret, one of them more shocking than the other. Her friendship with Clay, which included some sexual experimentation in their teens (always to her satisfaction, only once to his, and even then …), was eclipsed by her crush on Clay’s older half-brother, Kole, the part-Indian father of Savannah’s daughter. We also learn that Clay, in addition to running his family’s ranch, has a weakness for horses no one else wants – horses that are imperfect or suffering.
And it is that particular symbolism that is a tad heavy handed in an otherwise good book. We get it. Clay feels sorry for sick, broken or incapacitated horses – horses no one else wants. Then there is Savannah, sick, broken and emotionally incapacitated. Yet Kathleen Eagle also shows us that Clay loves Savannah, has loved her since they were children. They are best friends, yes, but it’s more than that on his part. Is it on hers?
There are some sex scenes, and while none are graphic, they are hot. Clay knows what Savannah wants as far as sexual intimacy is concerned, even if she isn’t always ready to reciprocate.
A lot happens in The Last Good Man, but none of it is cataclysmic or volcanic. Instead, it’s grounded in realism and truth, which makes us enjoy the characters all the more, and not just Clay and Savannah, but also Claudia, Savannah’s daughter, and Patty, Clay’s father. But this book is about Savannah more than anything else. She’s a survivor, but she has a long way to go before she can give Clay what he wants and deserves, and what she wants and deserves as well.
It turns out that, in The Last Good Man, at least, you can go home again. It helps if you’ve got a good man waiting for you.