No one writes riveting emotion quite like Catherine Anderson. Her talent for delving into rich, emotional depths is unmatched.

After a messy public divorce and custody battle, former pro football player Joe Dakota decides to escape the public glare and return to his hometown of Laurel Creek, Oregon.

Taking a job as the high school football coach, Joe hopes to build a new life with his 4-year-old son Zachary. In order to do so, Joe will have to come face-to-face with his first love, Marilee Nelson.

Already nearly agoraphobic, Marilee stays close to home dreading the thought of running into Joe. Years ago, their storybook romance ended bitterly when she refused to marry him. When Joe shows up on her doorstep, Marilee knows that she must find the courage to face him.

Upon seeing Marilee again, Joe realizes that he has never stopped loving her, but he also sees that Marilee is not the girl he once knew. Joe recognizes in Marilee some of the same traumatic defenses that his young son also exhibits. What happened to cause such damage?

(Sept., 384 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith