When Hannah Benson was 17, she fled her brutal father, who had discovered her kissing local boy Grady Steadman. Later that night, her father was found dead, bludgeoned with a frying pan. Twenty years on, Grady, now the Clearfield, Va., sheriff, tracks Hannah down to deliver more bad news: her mother has died, making Hannah the only living relation of her niece Anna, a 15-year-old girl she didn’t know her sister, dead five years, had even had. Though a long-held secret about the night she left makes Hannah reluctant to return home, she does, meeting Anna. As Hannah becomes overwhelmed by the past, Grady knows she’s never told him the truth, and threatens a custody battle over Anna unless Hannah comes clean. As Hannah and Grady navigate reigniting their old attraction, the truth proves difficult to pin down. In delivering a touching tale of trauma, healing, and family, McComas doesn’t shy away from violence, likely disturbing to some readers, but she wields it carefully. Hannah’s understandable inability to trust is more than just a roadblock to her relationship with the unfortunately stereotypical Grady, who’s far too good to be true. Despite some of the conflicts feeling contrived and easily surmountable, McComas builds the relationship between Hannah and Anna deftly, showing how hard it can be for strangers who happen to be family to know each other. Agent: Denise Marcil Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011 Release date: 02/01/2012 Genre: Fiction
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