St. Martin's, July 20004, 6.99, 352 pp.
When Samantha Marconi was eighteen she met and fell in love with upper crust Jeff Hendricks. The couple married over the objections of their family. He left for London on business and she became pregnant. He never returned to her, contacted her or answered her letters except to provide her with the divorce papers. She gave up the child for adoption.
Nine years, Jeff visits Sam to ask her to sign new divorce papers as the ones they signed were never filed by the government clerk. He is going to remarry. However, when she goes to see him at his hotel, she sees a miniature Marconi as he as raised the child she left behind. They share angry notes and soon realize his deceased mother orchestrated the split. Sam insists she has time with Emma or else; Jeff agrees. As Emma plays matchmaker, the spark between Jeff and Sam reignites, but can they overcome their history even if they are in love and love the same third person.
Why Sam gave up her newborn with the loving family she had seems odd though it apparently has to do with her mom's death just before the birth. Fans will enjoy this fine contemporary tale. The Marconi mob is a tough crowd that any human male would think twice of defying. Jeff is a solid protagonist, Emma is a precocious child (too accepting of her mom in her life), and his deceased mom was a maestro manipulator who made Machiavelli look like an amateur. The interplay between everyone makes for a fine tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner