Someday Soon

Summer Love

Not Without You by Janelle Taylor
(Zebra, $6.99, PG) ISBN 0-8217-6613-9
A man comes to in the hospital after four days of unconsciousness. He knows he has a partial memory loss - he stares at the woman waiting by his bed and, with some effort, remembers she is Kelsey. He thinks she might be his wife. He doesn’t know what happened to land him in the hospital and he isn’t quite sure who he is but, with a little more time, he remembers he is Jarred Bryant. But when the doctor asks him if he remembers who he is, he decides to say he doesn’t remember because - well, he isn’t sure why.

Kelsey, shaken, goes from the hospital to her “adopted” brother’s funeral. The Rowdens had taken her in when she was orphaned as a teen. Now she has to face them knowing that Jarred and Chance Rowden were in Jarred’s plane together when it crashed. The only one alive who knows why they were there or what happened is Jarred and he doesn’t remember. Chance, a drug abuser, had visited Kelsey’s home just before his death, looking horrible, but told Kelsey nothing about a trip.

Kelsey had long since decided she should divorce Jarred and now she tries to think of how to say this to her injured husband. Meanwhile, Jarred’s family, which includes his parents and an illegitimate half-brother, Will, are depending on Jarred to handle the family business. Will lets Jarred know that they are losing all their construction bids to their biggest competitor - the company that Kelsey works for. Will strongly suggests that Kelsey must be the one who is letting that competitor know the company secrets. Jarred disagrees and persuades Kelsey to move back into his house to help take care of him while he recovers.

The good news is (especially since I have been reviewing a spate of amnesia victim books) this story’s depiction of Jarred’s faulty memory strikes me as a more realistic sketch of amnesia than most. I was amused at the doctor’s disappointment when he realizes Jarred only has partial amnesia and that he has been lying about his memory for days. There was no rare total amnesia patient for him to study after all.

The bad news is that the rest of the plot only gets more complicated. There are tons of unsympathetic characters, just like many Gothic novels, but no one really likable enough to offset the nasty ones. The dormant passion which flares up again between Kelsey and Jarred seems unrealistic, maybe because it didn’t sound like it was ever there in the first place. I did like the idea of Jarred being able to come back to the relationship without many of his former problems (wouldn’t we all?) but I thought a lot of his problems were too big to be ignored. Jarred is not a nice guy and a little amnesia could only help. Kelsey, on the other hand, often comes across as a doormat.

Of course Kelsey and Jarred have to fight to protect each other from all kinds of unknown dangers but I finished the story without a strong desire to see them make it through safely and together.

--Irene Williams

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