|Susan Donovan has called her novels, “Brain candy for smart women” and-hallelujah-it’s true.
The Girl Most Likely To… is the story of Kat Cavanaugh and Riley Bohland, teen lovers torn apart by life and reunited by revenge. Kat Cavanaugh had a tough young life, being raised by her abusive father, Virgil and her pushover mother, BettyAnn. She would hide from her father, nurse her mother after the beatings, and run to Riley’s house whenever it got too hard to deal with. Kat and Riley have been in love since they were kids, but their feelings are getting more serious as they get older. One day Riley’s father, Big Daddy, tells him that he and Kat are too close, too young, and he’s got to break it off. Riley does, in the coldest way he can while breaking his own heart, only to be back at Kat’s house, hours later. He bangs on the door until BettyAnn answers, telling Riley that Kat’s gone, run away. What Riley doesn’t realize is that Kat is pregnant with his baby, found out about her father’s adulterous affair, and has been kicked out of her home and school, all in one day.
Luckily, Kat’s picked up by a nice truck driver named Cliff, who brings her to his sister Phyllis’ house in Baltimore, where she can stay.
Kat spends the next twenty years focused on Aidan, going to school and then building her career. She is afraid to become attached to anyone of the opposite sex, and her only male companionship over the years was with a gay friend who has since passed away. Riley has become a doctor, and is committed to building a clinic in their hometown. He was briefly engaged to another doctor, but that is definitely over now.
So, twenty years later, Kat rolls back into her hometown of Persuasion: freshly made over, rich from Phyllis’ inheritance, and looking for an apology from everyone in town, especially Riley. Riley sees Kat again and he’s stunned - and pissed off. He’s been looking all over for Kat and his son Aidan in the year since BettyAnn Cavanaugh died and spilled Kat’s secret. He didn’t find her then, but she’s right in front of him now, and he’s determined to get the answers he’s been searching for.
The Girl Most Likely To… is tightly written, the characters are refreshing, and the romance is hot! Kat is a great heroine, easy to identify with, modern and funny. She manages to cope with her very dysfunctional family with grace. She’s thoroughly human, trying to figure out how to prove herself to the people who knew her best.Kat’s best friend, a fiery Italian named Nola, is a great foil for her. When Kat might have a pity party or fall apart, Nola is right there to prop her up.
Riley is sexy, just the right combination of hardworking man and a little bit of the teenage boy that Kat left behind. He has every right to be angry and feel cheated, which makes his ready forgiveness and open heart overwhelming. It’s hard not to fall in love with a man who welcomes his grown son with open arms, and sincere love.
Riley and Kat have twenty years of lies and differences between them, but the love they believed in as kids seems stronger than the challenges life has thrown their way. The way they speak honestly to one another and come back together is at once painful and dramatically romantic.
Bravo to Susan Donovan for writing a novel that is surprising in many ways. This book is almost certain to cause the reader to reflect on their own first love, what has become of their life and feel the hope that love just might be powerful enough to promote true forgiveness.