Claiming the Rancher’s Heart

One Night Stand

When She Was Bad

In Love With John Doe
by Cindy Kirk
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #2051, $4.99, PG)  ISBN 978-0373-65533-5
Not usually a big fan of amnesia stories, I was pleasantly surprised by In Love With John Doe.  The story was well written, thoughtful and a good romance with two very adult and interesting characters.

In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, they are used to dealing with tragedies from the “back side” of the mountain, an area that is treacherous and meant for only the best climbers. It isn’t unusual to have to rescue stranded hikers and climbers. In this case, the man was a victim of an avalanche and was found only because of his tracking device. He is lucky to be alive. The fact that he can’t remember anything – not his name, who he was with, why he was there - is his only lingering injury. Calling himself Jack Snow, he takes a room at the local bed and breakfast. He pays for it with the large amount of cash found on him. The plan is to put out an announcement about the man known by the sheriff as “John Doe” and see if someone will call about him.

Lexi Brennan is the emergency room social worker assigned to his case. She helps him find lodging at the B&B, the place she calls home. Lexi and her ten-year-old daughter, Addie, live in one of the cabins on the property, helping to cook on the weekends to help make ends meet. Lexi is a twenty-nine year old never-married single mom; her daughter was the result of a love affair in college that ended when she got pregnant. She has had little contact with Addie’s father  over the years, and in fact, just sent him a letter asking that he relinquish all claims on Addie.

Lexi befriends Jack, first as part of her job and then just because she likes him and feels compassion for his situation. She is determined to help him recover his memory, and is strongly attracted to him.  In her mind, she knows he will leave but her heart hasn’t felt this way in a long time. Jack also feels the attraction and respects Lexi’s choice to keep things platonic since he doesn’t know if he is married, has kids or even has a family. As their friendship deepens, so do their feelings.

Jack is in Wyoming a month before anyone sees the story and lets him know that he is an attorney from Dallas named Nick Delacorte. His story got buried under a terrorist attempt so it took a long time for his family to see it. They weren’t really worried since he had left for a month long vacation to figure out his life – a life that included a relationship with a woman he wasn’t sure he wanted to make permanent and a law practice that seemed to leave him feeling flat.

This tale is believable because of the length of time Lexi and Jack/Nick have to get to know each other. They get to explore their beliefs, values and feelings as they try to uncover who Jack is.  Addie adds to the story because she is struggling with her lack of knowledge about her real father and her growing feelings for Jack. Lexi struggles with her feelings for Jack, her concern for both those feelings and those of her daughter if Jack ends up leaving and her need for support when Addie’s father decides he wants a part in Addie’s life.

Since this is part of a series, there are townspeople who are introduced which helps to show Jack what a life with friends and family could be like. He acts responsibly both as an amnesiac and when he starts to get his memory back. Their relationship is on the fast track but they share a lot in that short month, making the depth of their feelings seem appropriate.

In Love With John Doe is a story that will keep the reader turning pages, make one smile yet doesn’t make one feel like they have fallen into a soap opera. There is enough reality to keep the tale grounded and the actions believable.    

--Shirley Lyons

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