And Then Came You
By Grace
Jul 27, 2004 - 8:30:00 PM

Samantha Marconi anticipated a rough summer.  This year it's Marconi Construction's turn to do the wacky neighborhood widow's annual remodel.  Sam and her sisters, Mike and Jo, have their work cut out for them.  Widow Grace Van Horn has changed her mind on the details of the project at least a dozen times already, and they haven't even started work yet.  To top it off, their secretary just gave her notice.  She's quitting.  Today.  The summer from hell has officially begun.

The fun isn't over yet.  Meet Jeff Hendricks, Sam's ex-husband.  Also known as The Bastard.  He's just arrived to deliver earth-shattering news.  Their nine-year-old divorce never went through, due to an error in the county clerk's office.  Husband and wife.  While that little piece of news sinks in, Jeff announces that he's engaged to be married in a few weeks, and the fact that he's married to Sam isn't too convenient.  He shoves a set of divorce papers at her.  Mike scares Jeff off before they resolve anything.

Once Sam absorbs the import of the situation, she decides signing the papers would be the best option for everyone involved.  After all, she already thought she was single.  Signing the papers simply returns things to the status quo.  Jeff can return to San Francisco, and Sam can return to pretending he never existed.  She goes to Jeff's hotel to end the ordeal once and for all.

When his hotel room door opens, Sam's world tilts on its axis again.  Jeff has an eight-year-old daughter, Emma.  Their daughter.  The daughter Sam put up for adoption when Jeff wouldn't answer her letters or phone calls.  How in hell did Jeff get their baby?  One thing's for sure.  Sam's not signing anything until she straightens out this tangle.  She never expected to have a chance to know Emma, but since she's got the opportunity, she'll hold Jeff's divorce hostage until he grants her visitation and/or custody.

With all her sass, Sam could have been played in a spiteful way with a lot of anger.  There's heat here, but no hate.  Just the way I like it.  Fighting and misunderstanding defined Sam's past with Jeff, but in nine years apart, they've both managed to grow up.  And the reader reaps the benefits.

AND THEN CAME YOU is a smart and engaging glimpse into the Marconi family and their close-knit community of Chandler, California.  Although part of a continuity, the book stands strong on its own.  If anything, it made me want to find the rest of Ms. Child's books.  What fun awaits the reader in Chandler!

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