You know what I always say about stories with amnesia? Well, forget it. (Couldnít help putting that in.) The Stranger in Room 205 rises above the amnesia clichť by being well-paced and well-plotted. The amnesiacís struggles with his forgotten past hook the reader quickly. Maybe itís interesting because Sam, who wakes up in a hospital room in a small town in Arkansas, has a twist to his story. When people ask him who he is and why heís where he is, he creates a name and a past for himself out of thin air. Heís tired of people poking and prodding him and he just wants to get out. He figures if he pretends heís fine, heíll be able to leave.
Since he was beaten and left in a ditch, just getting out isnít that easy. He has other injuries that need care and Serena Schaffer, the woman who found him, feels responsible for him. When no one comes to claim him and he has no money or clothing left, she brings him clothes. Itís her mother, however, who offers him a job and shelter. Sam settles in, not sure what to do next while he heals. He gradually wins over the suspicious sheriff, the members of the small town and, of course, Serena herself.
Serena isnít quite sure of her place in the world either. Not long ago she was a small-town lawyer. Suddenly, after her sister ran off with some singer wannabe, she inherited running the family newspaper. Now everything thought she could count on has changed. Serena has no desire to take on these duties but she does. She doesnít want to take on Sam, either, but at least heís handsome and sexy. That particular chore grows on her.
Samís stubborn refusal to let others know how little he knows about his life leads to various complications, including the progress of his romance. His desire to work things out his own way is an innate part of his character, so it is a milestone when he finally overcomes his resistance to telling others the truth and is honest with Serena. Meanwhile Serena, who prides herself on her practicality, is confused by her desire to forget all sense when sheís around this virtual stranger. Slowly these intelligent, hard-headed characters learn to care and trust each other -- and change a little for each other as well.
The town Sam ends up in is an integral part of the story. Sam becomes part of small town life almost without effort because the townís inhabitants are generally charming and accepting. The town, though generally depicted as idyllic, shows enough warts to make it seem real. Even the villains in Edstown are interesting parts of the plot.
After the big build-up throughout the book, the mystery of who hurt Sam and who he is seems a bit rushed toward the end. Still, thatís forgivable since the hero and heroineís story in The Stranger in Room 205 is carefully told. Itís worth a read.