Seventeen years earlier, Michelle Turner had fled Montana, pregnant and alone, to begin a new life in Seattle. Now she's returned, to donate a kidney to her father despite their nearly two-decade estrangement. Accompanying her is her surly teenage son, Cody, who is not happy about leaving his friends in Seattle in the middle of the school year.
Michelle''s father, Gavin Slade, was an Oscar-winning actor who moved to Montana long before it became the northern mecca of the rich and famous. Gavin had been an absent father for most of Michelle''s life until her mother died when she was a teenager and she moved to his Montana ranch.
There she met and fell in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, Sam McPhee, who was working for her father as a ranch-hand. Unbeknownst to Michelle, Gavin had hastened the retreat of Sam and his alcoholic mother, Tammi Lee Gilmer, before Michelle had the opportunity to tell him he was going to be a father. Over the years, Michelle had lost touch with Sam who had become a world-class rodeo champion to earn money to pursue another dream. The last person she expects to see when she returns to Crystal City, Montana is her old love.
Sam had returned to Crystal City, unaware that Michelle had left. One of the main reasons for his return was the chance he might run into her again. He has never forgotten his teenage love. Unaware of Cody''s existence, he is surprised to find Michelle has a teenage son. When Cody comes to Sam'sranch to work off damage done in a fender-bender, it doesn't take Sam long to see himself in Cody and he confronts Michelle. Was she ever going to tell him the truth? And how are they going to tell Cody before he finds out from somebody else?
This isn''t your normal "secret baby" story full of misunderstandings and longtime secrets left untold. It''s more a story of the reactions of people to the secrets which are now revealed. Susan Wiggs has added very interesting secondary character to this mix including Sam''s ex-alcoholic mother, Tammi Lee, a rather tragic character who is trying desperately to turn her life around; Sam McPhee, who, although always the movie star but, in the autumn of his years, is becoming more aware of the needs of the people in his life rather than in his own. Cody is pretty much a typical teenager --- surly, defiant on the outside - hiding a rather sensitive young man on the inside. Add to this Michelle''s unconventional but caring friend Natalie and readers are all set for a wonderful read with never a dull moment.
Wiggs''s description of western Montana places the reader firmly in the fictional town of Crystal City which is in the Swan mountain region not too far from the real town of Big Fork, SE of Kalispell and north of Missoula. She is able to set the scene so beautifully that even readers who have never been there can experience the grandeur that is "Go'd's country."
This is Wiggs''s magnum opus - the break-out single title release for the popular, award-winning author who has been known primarily for her historical romances. She does single-title contemporary so well it's as if she invented the subgenre. At over 500 pages, there''s something going on all the time, and the novel never suffers from any lags in the action. The book is so seamless and tight the reader nears the end before they are aware of it. What a dazzling read from a well-loved author. I can''t recommend this one enough and certainly look forward to other contemporary stories from Ms. Wiggs.