Dear Barnes & Noble:
Thank you for giving me such a wonderful book for free. I don't always appreciate the books you offer on Free Fridays, but this week you've given me a gift :)
Annie has had an interesting life. She spent the first seven years of her life with her father, Jack Peregrine, running cons and constantly on the go. She's never known any other life until, on her 7th birthday, he leaves her with her Aunt Sam & Sam's best friend Clark, and vanishes for 10 years. During that time, Annie learned to adjust to a 'normal' life in Emerald, North Carolina--being raised by Sam and Clarke bearing a remote resemblance to normal. She is a star athlete, has a wonderful best friend and gets accepted into the Naval Academy to reach her goal of being a fighter pilot. On her seventh birthday, when her father left her at his childhood home to be raised by his sister, he told her that her birthday present was in the barn--an old airplane. Annie loved that plane and convinced Sam & Clarke that she wanted to fly. She even convinced D.K. Destin to not only give her flying lessons, but to teach her to be a flyer. Annie hadn't slowed down since.
Aside from a brief encounter on her 17th birthday, where her father emerged at full speed from a corn field to leave Annie a ruby for her birthday present, only to exit at full speed when the local police showed up, Annie hasn't had any contact with her father since her left her when she was 7. Until, on her 26th birthday, he contacts her. He's dying and he needs her help. Annie, currently in the middle of a divorce from a man who will not divorce her, is heading home to spend her birthday in Emerald, as she does every year. She's on top of the world, divorce not withstanding, because she's been chosen for an incredible opportunity to test a new aircraft and take a crack at a new speed record. Why would she drop everything to help her father? the man who abandoned her? Love.
I absolutely loved this book! Michael Malone has created some wonderful characters. Annie, self-confident, successful woman, abandoned little girl on the inside. Her best friend Georgette, raised by the 'perfect' mother with all the emotional baggage to show for it. Sam and Clarke, best friends, totally devoted to each other with the wrong sexual preference to turn their friendship to romance. Jack Peregrine, fast talking con man with more secrets than the CIA. Their family is completely dysfunctional and works so well. The relationships are solid, anchored in the kind of love that not every family has but this mashed together family has in abundance. As the characters grow, you find yourself wanting to know more and more about them. You are rooting for each of them to find their happily ever after--it's a wonderful story.