Marriage Lost and Found
by Trish Wylie
(Harl. Romance, #3882, $4.25, PG) ISBN 0373-03882-8
****
Set in Ireland, this is a story of fate and how easily what we have can slip away. It is about the little things that we realize impact us only when they play a role in our lives: the missed bus, the “almost” car accident, the phone call we choose to let go to voice mail. Marriage Lost and Found is a story of love and hope and despair and taking a chance. It packs a wallop in just 187 pages, despite requiring the reader to suspend some disbelief at times.

Abbey Jackman is turning thirty years old. She feels much older. But she is back in her hometown, and ready to celebrate with the people who knew her when and the people she brought with her from her new life in Dublin where she works as a promotions specialist. She is semi-engaged to her boss Paul and life is basically good. But there is a hole.

And he walks into her birthday party unannounced. Ethan Wyatt is her husband, a man who put her on a plane eight years ago after a whirlwind courtship and a Las Vegas wedding, with promises to come get her after he got a few things settled. He never came. Abbey mourned her loss in private, never sharing with anyone what she perceived as her naiveté and humiliation. She lost her beloved father and then moved to Dublin. She assumed Ethan had changed his mind and gotten a divorce. Before she could accept her boyfriend’s proposal, she realized she needed to be sure, so she wrote Ethan to verify that the divorce was final. Instead of sending a return letter he has now shown up on her mother’s doorstep.

Ethan and his best friend were in a horrible auto accident after putting her on that plane. The friend died, and Ethan barely survived. What he did lose was his memory of the accident and everything previous from about six months before that. All he had were a few pictures of a lovely young girl he had no way to find. When he got the letter, Ethan had to come find out what had happened and why she never came looking for him.

The story is centered on the two characters, as they try to figure out what happened and discover what needs to be done now. The reader has to get past the initial reaction that this is just a tad too wild to be believable. The angst and tender scenes of hope and sorrow help push through some of that feeling. The rest goes away as we come to know Ethan and Abbey and hope that they can find the love they felt when they were young and carefree and full of hope for the future.

Ethan is a tortured hero but quickly becomes one that everyone can align with, as he struggles with finding his memory and forgiving himself for not knowing about Abbey. Abbey is a bit of a hard sell to like. She acts tortured by her memories but never once in eight years did she get up the gumption to find out what happened. She did pick up her bootstraps and make a new life for herself. Her ability to move on, though, was always hampered by her sense of betrayal and her unwillingness to move past anger. This leaves the reader with a sense that while she talks a strong fight; she is a bit of a wimp. Ethan’s arrival and their subsequent interactions help her find her true self and she is a likable character in the end.

Wylie handles the story well, keeping it from succumbing to pure melodrama. She injects humor in the guise of Abbey’s best friend Karyn. She is a hoot and helps keep the tale grounded. Overall, the sense of hope and a chance for happiness permeates the story and makes Marriage Lost and Found a recommended reading experience.

--Shirley Lyons


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