If you like amnesia stories, One Texas Night may ring your chimes.
Grady Sloan's first day as interim police chief in the small Texas town of
Fargate isn't going well at all. Angela Peterson has been murdered,
stabbed to death inside her home. Grady's only clue is a woman he found
cowering behind Angela's woodshed in terror, who claims she can't remember
anything. Witness? Or perpetrator?
Grady's not inclined to believe this amnesia thing. But he calls in his
sister Desiree, a psychologist, to get her opinion. Desiree thinks the
woman is on the up and up, and explains to Grady the various ways in which
amnesia can come about. It isn't long before the woman's identity is
established. She's Melinda Amery, daughter of a renowned lawyer with whom
Grady has an unpleasant background.
Melinda's memory returns quickly, except for what she saw that night.
Grady is frustrated, a feeling intensified by his awareness of Melinda's
body. He's having lustful thoughts all over the place, even while he tries
to get to the bottom of the murder. As far as he's concerned, Melinda is
his number one suspect, especially when clues start turning up that point
to Melinda as the murderer.
It's hard to insert technical information into a romance without making it
seem forced. The author does a nice job here by using Desiree as the
courier, explaining to Grady about amnesia. The scenes where Melinda
finally tries to piece together what happened brought a faint chill -the
sinister undertone was well done.
But the lead characters in this book never worked for me. Take Grady.
Here's a guy who wants nothing more than to be the next county sheriff, and
what does he do? Gets personally involved with his prime suspect in a
murder. His "I know you might have done it but I want you anyway"
thinking made him look rather foolish. His focus on the investigation is
constantly being interrupted by thoughts of Melinda's breasts, etc.
Melinda is little better. One of her friends has been stabbed to death,
and she stubbornly refuses to try and remember what happened that night,
lying to Grady over and over about what she actually DOES remember. She's
afraid of a "monster", something unnamed from her childhood (though savvy
readers will figure it out). Rather than confront her fears, she hides
behind them and leaves Grady to flounder. Give me a heroine with some
backbone who's mature enough to try and confront her demons. Melinda
eventually does so, but it's taken so long and she's had to be prodded so
hard (not to mention that most of the book has turned on her refusal to
cooperate) that I lost most of my sympathy for her.
Some of Melinda's actions don't even make any sense. On the night of the
murder, for example, she was terrified by the thunder and lightning storm
going on but felt cooped up in the house, so she went for a walk, in the
storm, in the dark, to watch ducks swim on a pond. Huh? If you were
terrified of storms, would you go out walking in one? And how many
ducks can you see swimming in the dark of night?
Harlequin Intrigue must be one of the toughest lines to write for. It's
hard enough to make a category-length romance "sing"; to keep to a similar
page count and mix in an interesting mystery while still retaining the
believability of the characters and the relationship, well - One Texas
Night didn't do it for me. Hope you have better luck.