THE YOU I NEVER KNEW by Susan Wiggs (see her website)Warner Books, January 2001
Michelle Turner never really got to know her father, ex-movie star Gavin Slade. When she'd been eighteen, she'd spent a couple of months with him, fallen in love with Sam McPhee, gotten pregnant, and lost both of the men of her life. Now she is coming back to Montana. Coming back to offer a kidney to save her dying father. She has no idea that Sam McPhee has returned to Crystal City. When Sam had vanished from her life and Michelle had left her father, she'd also given up her dreams to become a painter. Being a mother and supporting her baby had taken all of her energy leaving nothing left to pursue dreams. Michelle is shocked to find that Sam followed his own dreams, becoming a doctor as well as a rodeo champion.
Sam is angry he's been denied sixteen years of his son's life. Cody's piercings, died pony tail, and abrupt manners don't sit well with Sam, but he knows he needs to look beneath the surface. His unexpected reaction to Michelle surprises him, and explains a lot about why he's never been able to sustain a fully committed relationship with a woman. He's never really fallen out of love with Michelle.
THE YOU I NEVER KNEW is about people discovering each other and themselves. Michelle and Jack need to learn about each other as adults rather than love-sick teens. Sam and Cody need to develop a relationship. Michelle and Gavin must leave behind the hurt that defines their relationship. Finally, both Michelle and Cody must learn about themselves and their dreams.
Susan Wiggs (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Wiggs) has created a cast of fascinating characters. Although they are secondary characters, Gavin, Cody, and Sam's recovering alcoholic mother Tammi Lee, are fully fleshed out and intriguing in their own rights. Cody's teen-angst struggle to become cool, enjoy the respect of his peers, and still be true to the ideals his mother raised him with, sometimes threatens to overshadow the romance between Sam and Michelle.
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