The Heiress & the Bodyguard

Lady With a Past

 
The Sheriff and the Amnesiac
by Ryanne Corey
(Silh. Desire #1461; $4.25; PG) ISBN 0-373-76461-8
**
This is a romantic fantasy for masochists.

Jenny Kyle is making a spur-of-the-moment cross-country motorcycle trip when she discovers that her wallet is missing. Unfortunately, she has just eaten at Enchilada Ernie’s in Bridal Veil Falls and the waitress calls the sheriff.

When Sheriff Tyler Cook realizes his sweet, kleptomaniac grandmother is also in the restaurant he recovers Jenny’s wallet immediately. Instead of thanking him, paying up and moving on, Jenny treats him and their small town audience to a noisy display of big city snottiness. At some point during her tirade, Tyler decides that the diminutive Julia Roberts look-alike is the soul mate he’s been waiting for all his life. But how to keep her in Bridal Veil Falls?

During her rant, Jenny complains that she has trouble controlling her powerful Harley and Tyler asks to see her motorcycle license. Surprise, surprise - she hasn’t got one.

Tyler offers her a choice. She can spend the night in jail or at the local motel, and in the morning he’ll give her a driving lesson instead of a ticket. That evening, while crossing the road back to her motel room, Jenny is hit by a car, resulting in a head injury and an almost complete loss of memory.

It was disappointing to see this ill-considered book from such an experienced and highly praised author. Right from the beginning, it fell into one of my least favorite sub-categories of romance: purportedly intelligent man falls instantly for obnoxious, immature woman. He just knows she’s sweet and sensitive inside - because the outside is so pretty. Now there’s a scenario to give the average woman palpitations.

Fortunately Jenny’s head injury also gives her a personality transplant so she loses much of the attitude, and her interaction with other people becomes much more bearable for the reader. Unfortunately, having been exposed so thoroughly to the real Jenny in the opening chapters, I kept thinking Tyler would be better off if the memory loss was permanent.

There are plenty of ominous hints about the great catastrophe in Jenny’s life that turned her into a defensive, emotionally stunted drifter. While I suspect we were intended to find her life tragic and dramatic, that wasn’t the reaction I had. She clearly has lots of time, lots of money, very few responsibilities and (before the accident, at least) her health. Yet she can think of no better use for all her resources than to throw herself a never-ending pity party.

I don’t expect or want all romantic heroines to be towers of strength in the face of adversity, but what is there to admire if she isn’t even trying?

I had high hopes for Tyler in the beginning, at least partly because of his sense of humor. (I chuckled when during Jenny’s restaurant tirade, he wryly suggested she avail herself of the right to remain silent.) But the activation of Tyler’s hormones doesn’t have a positive effect on his brain. He immediately gets involved with Jenny on every level and expects the same of her when they know nothing about her life - including whether or not she’s involved with another man.

He actually avoids following up on a couple of glaring opportunities to find out more about who she is - and whether or not someone somewhere is worried about her - because he isn’t sure he wants to know. This is a man who’s thinking about himself, not about what’s best for the woman he supposedly loves.

Ryanne Corey knows her way around a love scene and I couldn’t help wondering if I’d have enjoyed this story more if it had started after Jenny’s accident. Unfortunately, when she regains her memory the first thing Jenny recalls is how sorry she feels for herself.

In the end, because they both have plenty of money, they don’t so much solve their problems as walk away from them. Gee, another triumph of the human spirit.

I could wish Jenny’s lawyer/guardian had suggested she spend some of her money on therapy. It certainly would have improved this story if she’d been struggling to overcome the blows life dealt her rather than just whining about how much they hurt.

--Judi McKee


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