Book Tour: The Last Message by Catherine Hope

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Today, we are excited to share Catherine Hope’s debut novel from Headline Eternal, THE LAST MESSAGE. Discover what happens when a message meant for one is sent to another in this heartfelt contemporary romance with a dash of mystery. Read chapter one, grab your copy, and enter the giveaway.

The Last Message

Release Date: April 11, 2023

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This year I am sending my last message to you. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself, and I will never forget you, but I have to find a way to let you go.

When Lizzie is woken in the night by a text message clearly not meant for her, she is intrigued and haunted by the words she sees. After losing her beloved twin brother, she knows something of grief and the struggle to rebuild a life.

Nick, a widower for three years, is haunted by the disappearance and presumed death of his wife.

When these two lonely hearts are drawn together, an unexpectedly deep and powerful emotional connection is formed. Perhaps finally this is the chance for both of them to live again – if they can overcome scars of the past which have a longer reach than either could have imagined.

‘This book completely wrecked me! It was so good and it captivated me. It was perfect! I was absolutely entranced with this . . . 5 star read!’ NetGalley review

‘Stunning, beautiful, heartwrenching, heartwarming, uplifting and joyful. This book is everything. Don’t miss reading this one. Put it on the top of all your lists’ NetGalley review

‘Gosh this was a story and a half . . . Loved it. A perfect curl-up-on-the-sofa book’ NetGalley review

‘Great, great, great – I am giving it a lot of love . . . read this one! An intense, emotional and utterly compelling narrative!’ NetGalley review

‘This was such a devastatingly beautiful story! I fell in love with the characters Lizzie and Nick . . . Truly deep and powerful. The story is thought-provoking and sweet!’ NetGalley review.

Read Chapter One

Chapter One

My phone spun through the air and down toward the blue waves.

How on earth I’d managed to send it flying out of my hands was truly an accomplishment. But then I’m talented that way.

I shrieked and leaned over the rail, balancing on the slippery rung, as I watched my lifeline gracefully spiral down. The sun striking off the face in staccato bursts with every revolution was like a movie reel.

For the briefest moment, I almost panicked at all the images I could have lost forever. Thank goodness for the cloud.

But not everything was saved there. Tucked in the phone case were a few precious photos of Rob, my twin, in his final days. I’d used our parents’ old Polaroid, for nostalgia’s sake, to take the photos, and they were irreplaceable.

 It was gone, out of reach and forever to rest at the bottom of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. All because of a whale. A stunning whale and her calf, but still, a whale.

I curled my arms over my head and watched the waves devour my phone.

I’d desperately wanted to see whales when I’d decided to come to the Pacific Northwest. Everyone told me how fabulous it was if you were lucky enough to catch sight of them. Go whale watching, they’d said. You’ll love it, they’d said.

To be fair, I’d been excited to get so lucky and actually see the two whales. Perhaps too excited. In my haste to get the right shot for my next article for Condé Nast, the phone slipped in my fingers, the PopSocket popped off and, like a juggler, I played hot potato with it until—poof!—it was gone.

I was still standing at the damp railing, tottering on my tiptoes, staring at the swells that fanned out from the hull of the ferry. Suddenly, my feet slipped and I flung my arms around the railing, narrowly avoiding following my phone into the abyss.

Strong hands gripped my shoulders and hauled me down.

“It’s not worth it, ma’am.” A man’s voice, just behind me, was edged with alarm.

I glanced at him and realized he thought I was a jumper.

I widened my eyes and shook my head. “Oh, n-no, I wasn’t going t-to, it’s just that my phone . . .” My voice caught when the reality of my loss hit home. I closed my eyes. “So much was on it.” My voice croaked in barely a whisper. I was religious at backing up my phone. It held so much of my work and personal info, but those Polaroids were gone.

“I’m sorry,” he offered. “Maybe it’s up in the clouds.”

Up in the clouds.

Despite everything, that almost made me giggle and I opened my eyes. I didn’t want to correct him, and forced a smile at the elderly man. “I’m sure you are right.”

He wagged a finger at me. “Be careful next time, no leaning over railings.”

“I promise. And thank you.” Turning away, I pushed through the other passengers, the joy of seeing the whales, just moments before, now faded.

If I hadn’t been such a procrastinator, I’d have scanned the last photos of Rob on my external hard drive and Carbonite. But I hadn’t. I chastised myself now. I knew better than that, having lost a lot of work a few years ago when my laptop crashed. But I never thought about those last few images in my phone case. Regret pierced me.

I found a bench away from the passengers, and sank down on to it, feeling drained all of a sudden. Absently, I rummaged through my bag, in search of the tissues I knew I had in there somewhere.

Emotions I’d been able to manage, for the most part, since Rob died were rushing back. I didn’t want to cry here. In public. Or anywhere, for that matter. I’d done my share of crying in the months following his death.

Memories rolled over me. Rob had teased that I spent too much time behind the camera rather than living in the moment. I’d argued back that it was important to have photos, both for my job and memories.

But he’d laughed, leaned forward to gently touch me on the head, and then tapped his chest.

Memories live here, Lizzie, he’d said.

I could still hear his voice, soft and low but weak as the cancer ravaged him.

I drew in a ragged breath, my throat and lungs tightening. I pulled a bottle of water from my bag and took a long drink. My hat, or rather Rob’s hat, blew off my head, landing on the bench beside me, and started to skitter across the wood. I grabbed it before it could fly off in the wind and shoved it in my bag. If I ever lost his hat . . . well, I couldn’t bear to think about it.

As time went by, it was getting more difficult to visualize Rob’s face, and that hurt so much. How could my twin’s face fade? Out of habit, I reached for my phone, wanting to see a picture of him, and moaned.

“No, Rob, faces and voices fade. Photos are always there,” I murmured.

He’d made me promise not to wallow after he was gone. It had been the most difficult time in my life, somehow worse even than when our parents died. One from illness and the other soon after from a broken heart.

But, damn it, it wasn’t easy!

I was taken back to his room.

Rob lay so wasted and pale on the hospital bed set up in his house. Rather than keep the draperies closed, they were open so the atmosphere wouldn’t hold the weight of being a sickroom. A snowstorm painted the old Georgetown street into the perfect Christmas card. But Christmas this year hadn’t been festive, even though I tried to brighten it up with sparkly lights. I crossed my arms and shivered.

“Lizzie, come here,” Rob’s voice rasped.

I turned from the window to see his hand stretched out to me. I rushed to him and took his chilled fingers in mine, gently rubbing them. But they wouldn’t warm up, his skin dry and thin. His breathing had changed and deep in my heart . . . I knew.

“Shh, save your energy.” I brushed my knuckles softly across his sunken cheek.

I wouldn’t cry! Couldn’t. I’d save that for after.

“No, I-I need . . .” He swallowed and closed his eyes for the briefest moment before fixing them back on me. Eyes so like mine. And a brightness filled them. “To say . . . tell you . . . after I die—”

Rob, no, don’t say that!” My eyes prickled and I blinked, but it didn’t stop the tears that spilled down my cheeks.

“Lizzie, come on.” He drew in a gurgled breath.

I was shaking my head. I simply couldn’t believe we were here.

“Everything is arranged. There’s nothing you h-have to do. You know that, s-so . . . promise me.” His voice faded and his eyes fluttered shut.

I leaned over him, suddenly panicked, and whispered, “Rob, Rob, promise what?”

His eyes opened and they had a faraway look in them, but his voice was suddenly strong. “P-promise me you won’t stay here. Go and follow your dreams. Don’t let go of your dreams.” I held my breath as he took another slow one, before continuing, “I’ve tied you down for too long. You must live your life. Promise me.”

I nodded and tears almost blinded me. “I’ll try.”

“No, don’t try. Do. It’s important you leave here and move on.” He lifted his hand and touched my cheek. “Go and do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Stop being so cautious, and live on the wild side. Life is short. Do it for me.” He closed his eyes and whispered. “I need you to promise me this.”

“I p-promise.” I didn’t know how I’d manage to keep this promise, but I had to. For him. “Rob? Did you hear me?”

His mouth moved slightly. “Yes. So tired.”

“You sleep, I’ll get you some fresh water.” I placed his hand under the covers and pulled them up to his chin. My once big, strong, full-of-life brother was now so frail and small on the bed, it was shocking. I still couldn’t believe this was happening.

Taking the empty glass from the bedside table, I smiled at the Polaroid we’d taken yesterday. He’d had a good day and he’d told me a joke as I grabbed a selfie. I’d treasure that image forever. I quietly left the room.

The ferry horn went off, loud and mournful. It snapped me back to the present. In a way, I was glad, because reliving going back into his bedroom, only to find he’d slipped away in the short period of time I was gone, wrecked me. I hadn’t been by his side when he died. I’d never forgive myself for that.

I straightened my shoulders and stood, pulling the strap of my bag over my head. And now that special photo was with my phone under the waves. I exhaled, doing my best to bring back my happy thoughts. I much preferred them over the soulsucking despair of grief.

Rob would’ve thought it hilarious that I’d lost my phone. I knew exactly what he’d say.

You’re an accident waiting to happen, and it makes being your twin so freaking exciting.

And here I was, in the Pacific Northwest, working on my next blog, and half of it was now among the fishes and bottom feeders. Well, I’d had to rewrite before and, while it was annoying, usually the rewrite was better. I should still be able to make my deadline.

With Rob’s encouragement, I’d followed my dream of becoming a freelance journalist a few years ago, making the leap from the dog-eat-dog corporate world. I’d picked up some regular commissions from lifestyle magazines, and had found my happy spot doing travel writing.

Then Rob had fallen sick.

His illness grounded me. No way was I going to leave him alone, and my blossoming new career was put on hold until . . . well . . . until. I’d refocused, declining opportunities that would take me abroad, and accepting those that kept me close to home. Rob had to be my main priority.

But over the last year or so I’d been able to put myself out there again and find editors interested in my free-wheeling adventures. Then my foray into blogging, with a Mardi Gras article from New Orleans, became a huge hit. I’d been shocked, and pleased, and the next thing I knew I was in demand. A total one-eighty from where I’d been a few short months ago, and the pressure was on. So I’d upped my social media presence, but was still careful to keep my journalism jobs at the forefront.

Out of habit, I went to post on Insta, then fisted my hands. The first order of business was getting another phone. Pronto.

The ferry arrived in the port and people moved like a pack of sheep to the exit. I let myself be carried along with the flow off the boat. Then, extricating myself from the herd, I found a spot by the sea wall. If only I hadn’t decided a little ferry trip was a good idea. Then I’d still have my phone and not have to go through the irritation of replacing it. I’d still have my precious photos, be able to dive into my next job without the rewrite, and not be in this predicament.

Savage Cove was small, quaint and historic, with a very pretty waterfront and marina, shielded by a spit on the west side that kept the sea relatively calm. Despite everything, I was glad I’d chosen to settle here for the next six weeks.

I wandered along the seafront, awestruck by nature’s beauty. The salty tang on the air was invigorating, and my nose was tickled by the mouth-watering aroma of fish and chips carried along by the sea breeze. I knew exactly what I’d be having for dinner later.

Beginning to feel a little bit better, I enjoyed watching the birds soar on the wind, calling to each other with sounds akin to laughter. Blocking the sun with my hand, I didn’t recognize the species. I remembered seeing a bird book at the beach cottage I’d rented. I’d look them up when I got back.

The air was delightfully fresh, and I lifted my face to the sun’s warmth, closing my eyes. I was in the moment, just as Rob had instructed. Live life. Enjoy every moment. Grab adventure with both hands and hang on tight. Don’t dwell on the past or that he was gone. Our time together had come to an end, but I was still here.

“Right then. On to more living, and finding a phone.”

I strolled a little further along Wharf Street, past a row of beautiful and obviously very old wooden buildings. They’d been lovingly cared for and looked like they’d been converted into very high-end B&Bs and restaurants. The location was prime, and I was inspired to plan a future article. I enjoyed history and learning about town origins. A story focusing on these lovely buildings would be interesting.

At the intersection of Wharf and Lincoln Street, which ran away from the water, I stumbled across a market with vendors selling a variety of wares—from art, to baked goods, cheese, crafts, and numerous other items.  A particularly interesting metalwork booth caught my attention.

It was selling handcrafted metal sculptures in all sizes. I found a lovely pine tree statue and a little heart made of steel. I was always on the lookout for hearts, and this one had to come home with me.


Nick was glad to be back from his latest business trip. It was a great day in the PNW and the top was down on his Jag. He needed the fresh sea air to clear away his travel hangover, and it had him seriously thinking, yet again, about scaling back the trips. It was definitely a baseball cap and sunglasses kind of day.

He was coming home, although it didn’t really feel much like home anymore. The last few years had been especially difficult, and he’d thought that working hard and traveling often was the way to keep his mind sharp. He’d been to some pretty fantastic places, though always alone. He doubted there would ever be a time he would have a travel companion, but he couldn’t deny it would be nice to share the adventures with someone who appreciated them.

He let out a sigh, and squinted, cursing that he’d packed his sunglasses and cap in his carry-on bag, which was in the trunk.

The good weather had brought out all the tourists. He liked to see his town hopping, but he also preferred to keep his distance from the crowds. Normally, he’d bypass Wharf Street to avoid traffic and tourists, but today he hadn’t. He didn’t know why and was a bit startled when he found himself driving through town.

His timing lined up with the docking of the ferry, and the street was crammed with pedestrians. None of whom were being particularly traffic savvy.

Nick rested his elbow on the door and watched the people spill along the waterfront, keeping his eye on the road in case someone simply walked out from between the parked cars.

Creeping forward, he didn’t think he’d ever seen it so busy. Savage Cove had changed a lot in recent years. He still hadn’t decided if he was adapting, or just ignoring the changes, by staying at his beach house most of the time when he wasn’t away.

He had no reason to leave the house, other than for basic necessities, and most of the time his dad handled that. Which Nick appreciated. Other than working, walking Houdini on the beach, spending time with Dad, his life had become uneventful.

Nick supposed that, after the drama of three years ago, uneventful wasn’t all that bad. He didn’t think he was lonely. No, not at all. He kept himself occupied well enough. Yet, watching the couples and families stroll along the seafront, he felt a little twinge in his chest.

He’d almost had that.

He thrummed his fingers on the steering wheel, making slow progress along Wharf, and turned his attention to the tent tops of the market. The market was a new attraction, in only its second or third year.

The place was a zoo. A car suddenly stopped in front of him and he had to put on the brakes hard.

“Geez. I really should have taken the bypass,” he muttered. Nick looked back at the market, forcing down his impatience as the car in front unloaded, the passengers taking their time to get out and move along. It was like a competition to find how many clowns could fit in a Volkswagen.

A flash from one of the tents made him blink. Refocusing, he saw a woman holding something that caught the sun. It glinted in the sunlight. The woman’s back was to him, and he was struck by the shimmer of her hair under the sun’s rays. Almost as bright as the flash that had nearly blinded him. He tried to focus and saw her hand gripping a metal object that looked like a heart. The seller put it in a paper bag and he watched as the woman exchanged money for the item.

She was tall, slender, and moved with a willowy grace. He caught his breath, wanting to see her face.

He was so intent on waiting for her to turn around, that he didn’t see the car in front had driven off. Until the sound of a loud horn behind him snapped him out of his trance. Nick lifted his hand in acknowledgement and drove forward.

Finally, he was moving. He glanced back at the market in the rear-view mirror, trying to find the woman again. But he couldn’t see her through the crowds, and then the market disappeared around a bend in the road.

The image of her stuck with him all the way home.


Crossing the street, I walked up Lincoln, the gentle incline following the contours of the landscape. In the background the mountains rose, their peaks making smudges of inky blue and white on the horizon.

Looking into the store windows as I passed by, I was focused on one thing only. The other stores, while tempting, would have to wait. I’d prefer to avoid driving to Seattle and, while I could order online, I wasn’t confident next-day delivery to the cottage would be without further drama. In-store shopping seemed to make the most sense to me at the moment. I really wasn’t ready for big-city chaos right now. I’d only just begun to feel settled after my cross-country drive, before my arrival here a few days ago. All I wanted right now was quiet time, with only the sea, me myself and I, and my work.

There was a lot to discover about Savage Cove. Originally, it was the name that had caught my attention. I just had to visit a place that named itself “Savage” and find out why. If I were to hazard a guess, from what I’d seen so far, it would have something to do with the ocean. I stored away a note to myself to dig into this and turn it into a blog post or article for my editor, Kate.

A cozy little side street leading back to the seafront veered off to my right, lined with more of the older buildings of brick, stone and wood. All were carefully maintained, and many had window boxes overflowing with colorful flowers. An appealinglooking café a few buildings down caught my eye. My stomach growled, reminding me I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast— and that had just been a dish of yogurt. After getting a phone, I’d come back and see what they offered.

A few storefronts later, I saw a sign blinking at me through the display window. Leaning closer, I cupped my hand over my eyes to look deeper into the store. A neon sign at the back was flashing. Electronics.

“Thank God.” I pulled the door open and wandered down the aisles.

It was a hodge-podge, a little bit of everything, from touristy stuff to groceries, magazines, books, and a wall cooler loaded with beverages, ice cream, and other frozen items. But what I needed was at the back.

I beelined to the counter.

“Can I help you?” A red-headed young man popped up from behind a display case, startling me.

“Oh! Uh, yes, I’m looking for a cell phone.” I continued looking for a display, but there wasn’t much inventory. “I need an iPhone, please.”

“We are limited with stock. But I can order anything you want, it’ll just take a few days to arrive.”

My heart sank. But I was here now, and I decided at least I knew one would be on the way soon. It wasn’t that long to wait. “Okay, let’s place an order. Can I get a cheap phone to use in case of emergencies until the new one comes in? Something basic will do.”

“Sure.” He placed a few on the counter and nudged one toward me. “This one. Super cheap, refurbed number, and you can toss it once you get your new phone, if you want.”

“Okay, deal.” I filled out the paperwork for my order, and gave it to the store clerk. He looked at the paper.

“Right then, this is all good, Lizzie,” he said with a smile. “I’ll call the new—well, old—phone you got today when your iPhone comes in.”

I thanked him and left the store with a phone in my bag. I’d have to pull out Old Faithful—my SLR camera—if I wanted to take any photos in the next day or two.

“Now,” I said to myself, “let’s go check out that coffee shop.” I set off with a fast-paced stride and quickly found myself in front of the café, peering in through the tall windows. A simple word was etched on the middle, arched windowpane in a hipster-style font. Sol.

The aroma of fresh roast drifted on the air, and my tension floated away. I hadn’t realized just how stressed I was until now.

I pulled open the door, the tinkling of bells announcing my arrival. My frayed nerves were already beginning to calm.

About the Author

Catherine Hope’s love of reading began at a young age. Her parents always had a book close by, although they read vastly different genres, which rubbed off on her as she devoured everything from romance to espionage. She fondly remembers her mom with a book propped against her cosy covered teapot at lunchtime.Catherine started telling stories as a child, and it naturally grew into a passion for writing. Her goal is to breathe life into her characters and worlds and transport her readers into the pages of heartache and triumph. Catherine is excited for her debut release coming in early 2023 – THE LAST MESSAGE, with Headline Eternal, UK Division of Hachette. When Catherine’s not writing or thinking up fresh stories, she spends time with her family, friends, and menagerie of pets. But she’s always ready to jet off to explore the world, where many of her experiences find their way into her books. Catherine lives in a small town in Ontario, Canada.

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Enter to win a $25.00 Amazon eGift Card. Giveaway ends April 26, 2023. May the odds be forever in your favor.

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