Leaving is always harder for those left behind, but what if a person we never thought we’d see again suddenly comes back—the same person we once loved and lost—but with not a single memory of us? Would we love them still? Could we watch them find happiness with someone else? When the memory of loving someone vanishes, is it gone for good, or does it remain instilled in us forever? Stylo Fantôme returns with a mind-blowing second chance romance that explores the what-ifs of everlasting love—the story of a man who wakes up in hospital with no recollection of his past life or who he used to be, but as his heart and mind struggle with all he’s forgotten, his soul slowly remembers to whom it belongs. This book shattered me in the best possible way and is quite possibly one of the most moving love stories I’ve ever read.
“The man they brought into me three weeks ago had looked like a train wreck. But the man sitting in front of me right now, he seems pretty smart. Do something with this, make sure not to go down the same path.”
For Jon Doherty, life as he knows it began in a cold hospital room on the Upper East Side of New York City when he woke up from a two-week coma with virtually no recollection of anything before that day, and only in possession of his motor skills and instinctive physical memories. He was found unconscious on a subway platform in Brooklyn, addicted to drugs, with no documents to identify him, and no one to claim him. From the little he knows about his past self, a fresh start appears to have been the very thing a person like Jon would have needed prior to his accident, but his mind refuses to let him embrace the void in it, fighting to remember.
He looked over to his left side, to the empty mattress next to him. Then he stretched his arm out, laying his hand palm down in the space.
“Who were you?” he whispered. “And where are you now?”
As we slowly piece together the past life of Jon Doherty, we get to know Jayson Fairbanks—a young man who spends his days partying, getting high, side-hustling drugs, and never holding down a job for more than a couple of weeks. We quickly discover that there is nothing in Jayson’s life that he’s ever loved as much as he loves Delaney Carter—a fellow free spirit and wayward soul, a woman with a perennially happy disposition who lives her life without regrets, and lets herself be guided by the fire in her heart that burns brightly for one man alone. And while Jayson and Delaney’s life together remains exciting, unpredictable, and fun, it is also a trainwreck we see coming from a mile away.
“We were toxic. We just made each other worse. I probably saved both our lives when I fell on those train tracks. I’m glad I forgot us.”
So while Jon tries to build a new life for himself, slowly reconciling the quick flashes of his past self with the person he is trying to be, he can’t shake off the feeling that something huge is missing from his life, a presence his body remembers, but his mind refuses to give back to him. Until he unexpectedly finds himself staring into the bright blue eyes of someone he does not recognise, but every cell in his body tells him he knows.
“I miss you,” she sobbed. “I miss you so much.”
“I know. I bet he would miss you, too.”
Delaney never expected the love of her life to have forgotten her so completely given how much they once cared for one another, and how unimaginable the idea of not being together had once been to them both. But as Jayson’s only link to a past he no longer remembers living, and determined to help him love life again, Delaney finds herself in the midst of her worse nightmare—watching the man she still loves and aches for have no memory of ever loving her at all.
“She seems like a great girl for your life now.”
He took a deep breath.
“And what about you?”
“What about me?”
“Were you once a great girl in my life?”
“I think …” she whispered, and he could see a tear falling from her face. “I think I really was. One of the greatest.”
Reading one of Stylo Fantôme’s novels always feels to me like being in the passenger seat of a speeding car, with no seat belt on—your stomach is a fluttering mess, you know it could all go horribly wrong, but you love every twist and turn because you trust the skilful hands of the one driving the car. I never know which way she’ll steer my emotions, but I can always count on the consistent quality of her writing, on her characters staying perfectly flawed and unpredictable all throughout their story, and on never losing sight of the way they love one another. This heartbreaking tale of love lost and found took my breath away, and kept it.
“My brain forgot. And my heart wasn't sure. But my soul … how could I ever forget it belongs to you?”