Into His Private Domain
by Janice Maynard
(Harl Desire # 2135, $4.99, R) ISBN 978-0373-73148-0
***
Amnesia is an often used device and many times it is not used well. Janice Maynard has used the device in the beginning of a series about the men and women who grew up on Wolff Mountain in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Their lives have been shaped by a tragedy when the wives of the two patriarchs were kidnapped for ransom and then killed. The mountain became almost a prison, one which included lots of freedom and yet, lots of isolation and guarded interactions.

Gareth Wolff is the oldest of the children who were affected. He was only seven when it happened but he remembers his mother and he remembers when everything changed. He remembers his loving father, not just the overprotective grieving father. And he remembers the publicity, which was at times cruel even as it was often untrue. He grew up wary; had experiences, including one with a woman, that have made him more wary and he has essentially closed himself off from most people.

One day, a lady shows up on his doorstep saying she needs to talk to him. He knows she trespassed, since it appears she hiked and he knows she didn’t get through the guards at the gate. As he is trying to shoo her off, she falls off the steps, cuts her leg and is knocked out. When she wakes up she has no memory. Gareth doesn’t know whether to fully believe her, but his brother, the doctor, says she needs to stay and at least recuperate until her headache goes away and her leg heals. Her driver’s license says her name is Gracie Darlington.

This is a story that takes a little to develop. Even Gracie doesn’t know why she is on the mountain and she worries that she was there for something as nefarious as Gareth is hinting she was. When she calls the number listed in her phone as her father, she is even more wary – as he encourages her to keep faking the amnesia until she gets what she wants, then he tells her he is off to Europe and will see her in a week. Now she is stuck on the mountain.

Gareth and Gracie are attracted and to their credit, they just don’t fall into bed without really thinking things through. Of course, since time is of the essence, they do get to know each other in ways that can only happen in a tale like this one. Many things won’t stand up to scrutiny…for instance, they do look on the internet, but they really don’t look to see who Gracie is. Another intriguing thing is that Gareth’s family let her stay with him, rather than with one of the females or another member who wants her there.

However, the story line ends up being intriguing and lays the groundwork for Gareth’s brother and cousin. Because Gracie and Gareth are likable despite their faults, the story keeps the reader engaged and allows one to overlook some of the more conspicuous circumstances that lead to their happy ever after. Into His Private Domain is good enough that I will keep my eye out for book two in the men of Wolff Mountain series.

--Shirley Lyons


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