Twelve years ago, Neil Pettit chose his dreams of becoming a professional hockey player over a life with Maddie Montesano and their daughter. Now he's back in his hometown of Shady Grove, Pennsylvania, to fix his mistakes and finally be the father his daughter deserves.
Twelve years ago, Maddie didn't think she could live without Neil in her life but she's wiser now. Stronger. She's built a good life for herself and her daughter and the last thing she needs is Neil stirring things up.
Maddie does her best to remember that Neil was the boy who left her behind, but the longer he stays in Shady Grove, the more she realizes how much he's changed. How good he is for their daughter. And how much she still wants him. But before they can be a family, Neil and Maddie will both have to forgive the choices they made in the past, and learn to trust in their future.
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What can I say? This book really worked for me. Yes, Maddie's anger toward Neil for the first 60% or so of the book was frustrating, but I found it believable. (A lot of it was really geared toward herself, for reasons that become clear later on in the book. She was clearly directing it onto him to help herself deal with the guilt. Since I'm all about denial myself, it totally worked for me.) I would have had a harder time sympathizing with Neil if we'd actually seen him during the 12 years before the novel, when he was off being the hockey hero and sleeping around with puck bunnies. We didn't, though, and seeing what was going on his head during the "now" of the novel made a lot of sense to this reader. And the glimpses we got into their daughter Breanna's mind--awesome. I so totally "got" that girl. Loved, loved, loved her character. Parts of this book were frustrating, and parts were hard to read (in a good way--emotion-wise), but I just couldn't put it down until I'd finished it. The ending was a bit abrupt, but Andrews gave us just enough of a heads-up into Neil's plans to make it more believable than out in left field-ish. I'll be anxious to see what she has in store for Maddie's brother James for sure!