Rebecca Daniels returns to the small desert town of Mesa Ridge, Nevada, for a story involving Sheriff Joe Mountain. Yuletide Bride introduced us to Joe’s closest friend Dr. Cruz Martinez.
One very rainy stormy night while Joe is returning from an accident investigation his headlights pick up a figure running towards his car. A terrified female loses consciousness just as he reaches her. Joe takes her to the hospital and when she awakens he and Cruz discover that she has no memory and no identification.
Joe nicknames the Jane Doe, “Rain” harkening back to his Navaho culture and the legend of the “Rain Woman.” Unexpectedly, she prefers this name, and Joe starts his fight against falling in love with her. Before Rain is even out of the hospital it is apparent that someone had hit her on the head, and left her out in the middle of a very unfriendly desert to die.
When time comes for her hospital release to county services, Joe steps forward to offer her a room in his home. Joe has been rattling around in a large house by himself since his Anglo wife had tossed their marriage in his face and left. And quite incidentally his pregnant secretary has just been consigned to bed rest for the duration of her term.
So Rain has a temporary job and a temporary home. The book paints the emotions of one who has no memory in a very credible way. Rain doesn’t resist her attraction to Joe. But Joe is mindful of many things; the fact she could be married, the memories of his disastrous former marriage when his society wife married him pregnant by another man to protect her reputation. Not surprisingly, Joe is greatly in need of a trust infusion.
Notwithstanding these barriers, the romance forages ahead even as the investigation into Rain’s identity stalls. Daniels is a gifted writer balancing her characters strengths and weaknesses well. She craftily varies the pace of the action and while doing so nicely builds the romantic tension. Despite amnesia and the absence of known character traits, she creates Rain first with the qualities of warmth and basic kindness, and rebuilds her from there. Daniels avoids the obvious trap of having her characters languish in angst.
If you are new to the romance genre you may not have read a book yet involving traumatic amnesia, and, if that is so, this book will be a true delight for you. For others, this is a very old plot line, saved only by the interesting characters Daniels has created and by some inventive plot twists.