You Made Me Love You
Fellow AAR reviewer and ATBF columnist Robin Nixon Uncapher asked us about our buried treasures for 2000 for the January 1st issue of the column. I’m going to have to count Neesa Hart among mine. I’ve enjoyed most of this author’s works, and her latest might even be my favorite. You Made Me Love You is the story of two people who know what they want with a good dose of family drama thrown in.
Liza Kincaid is a former dancer who teaches at Breeland Academy. She’s convinced the Board to invite world-famous scientist Eli Liontakis as a guest teacher for the school’s summer program. Eli accepts because he’s sure that the school is the perfect place for his 10-year-old daughter Grace to recover from the grief of her mother’s death, and to get closer to her father. Having seen Liza dance, Eli’s also certain she’s the perfect woman to help Grace come out of her shell, and he knows she’s the perfect woman for him.
I loved pretty much everything about this book. The writing flows, even if the last 50 pages look like the copy editor suddenly fell asleep (missing commas and quotation marks all over the place). Liza and Eli’s story is completely engaging. There are no Big Secrets or Big Misunderstandings, and there are no extraneous conflicts.
Liza is a straight-shooting kind of person. You can’t put anything past her, and if you try, she’ll see right through you. After a tough childhood, she ended up at Breeland as a student, and after a rough, brief marriage, she returned as a teacher. She loves the school and the kids who attend it. She’s not exactly hiding a secret; she just has a painful incident in her past that she doesn’t easily share. Her actions are mostly believable, and the person she’s become makes sense based on her relationship with her mother.
Eli is just as straightforward as Liza, perhaps even more so. He tells her right off the bat that he intends to do something about the attraction between them. While he is at times obtuse about personal matters, he always sees what he has done and tries to fix it. Despite his PR polish, he’s still something of a stereotypical science geek at heart. He completely loves his daughter, and his concern and efforts on her behalf are very touching.
Grace is a strong secondary character, and once her problems are revealed, you may want to strangle her grandparents. They provide the conflict here, but instead of being the typical vindictive grandparents, their reason is deeper. The manner in which they used Grace was quite disturbing.
This is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year, and if you’ve read nothing by Neesa Hart, this would be a great story to start with.