The You I Never Knew
The You I Never Knew
by SUSAN WIGGS
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- Romantic Times Career Achievement Award Winner
Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine
- Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award Nominee - Best Book
Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine
From the book
Chapter 1After seventeen years, Michelle Turner was going back. Back to a past she didn't want to remember, to the father she barely knew, to the town where she grew up too fast, fell in love too hard, and wound up pregnant and alone.
During the long drive from Seattle to Montana, she rehearsed -- under her breath so Cody wouldn't hear -- what she would say when she got there.
"Hello, Daddy." Funny how she still thought of him as Daddy, even though he'd never been much more than a picture on the wall or sometimes a face on the TV screen late at night when his old movies played. "Sorry I didn't come sooner..." Sorry... sorry... sorry. All those regrets. So many of them.
Sorry wouldn't do. Gavin Slade -- her father had kept his professional name after retiring -- knew damned well what had kept her away so long.
She flexed her hands on the steering wheel of the Range Rover and glanced over her shoulder at her son in the backseat. Cody was lost in the space between the headphones of his Discman. Maybe I'm the one who's lost, she thought. Here she was, thirty-five years old and the mother of a teenager, and the thought of facing her father made her feel like a kid again. Defensive. Powerless. Inadequate.
The Washington landscape roared by as she drove eastward, heading toward a place where she'd find no welcome. She and Cody had left their waterfront town house before dawn. The lights had still been shining in the steel skeleton of Seattle's Space Needle. By sunup, the Cascade Range had given way to rounded hills and scrubby flatland, then finally to high plateaus, a bare and colorless midwinter moonscape, a neutral zone.
She saw nothing out her window to interest the eye, nor to offend it.
Long ago, she used to be an artist, painting in savage color with emotions that spilled unrestrained over the canvas, dripping off the sides, because her feelings could not be confined to a finite space. But somewhere along the way she had reined in those mad and glorious impulses, as if a thief had come in the night and stolen the dreams inside her and she hadn't noticed they were gone until too late.
All that remained of the wild soul of her younger days was a cold, mechanical talent and a photographic eye. Airbrush and mousepad had replaced paint and canvas.
Her subjects had changed, too. She used to create art with passion and purity, whether it be a horse on her father's ranch or an abstract scramble of feelings. Inspiration used to govern her hand, and something far more powerful ignited her spirit. Once seen or imagined, the work rushed from her, generated by a force as strong as the need to breathe.
Now subjects came assigned to her by memo from the ad agency where she was up for full partner. She used a computer to design and animate dancing toilet brushes, talking dentures, or an army of weed-killer bags marching toward a forest of weeds.
Tugging her mind away from thoughts of work, she clicked on the wipers to bat away a few stray snow flurries. The day wore on. Spokane passed in a whisk of warehouses and industrial smokestacks. The interstate arrowed cleanly across the panhandle of Idaho. Between empty stretches of highway lay glaring commercial strip centers, tractor barns and silos, wood-frame houses huddled shoulder to shoulder against the elements. Deeper accumulations of snow formed crusty heaps on the side of the road. East of Coeur d'Alene, the landscape yielded to endless stretches of nothingness.
- A heartwarming contemporary novel about a woman who loses and rediscovers the most precious loves of her life: her father, her husband, and her son.
January 1, 2001
Veteran author Wiggs's first romance for Warner reveals the pain that comes with love. When teenager Michelle Turner becomes pregnant, she finds herself abandoned by both her angry father and her ranch-hand lover, Sam McPhee, who vanishes before she can give him the news. When her father is at risk of dying from kidney failure 17 years later, Michelle, a successful single mom with a beloved but difficult son in tow, returns to tiny Crystal City, Mont., to donate the kidney that can save her father's life. Michelle is prepared to deal with the trauma of surgery, an estranged father and a rebellious child, but she is completely unprepared when she encounters Sam McPhee. Now a prosperous rancher and doctor, Sam quickly recognizes Cody as his, and with that revelation, a damaged family begins to heal itself. Overabundant flashbacks give the novel's first half a frustrating stop-and-start rhythm, and the character of Michelle never quite comes into focus. In contrast, Cody is beautifully and believably wrought as a teenager who hides a good heart under a bad attitude. Fragmented families are a romance staple, and Wiggs's sensitive portrayal of parents and lovers trying to bond despite a less-than-perfect past exemplifies the richness and realism this theme can lend a love story.
PublisherGrand Central Publishing
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