I can never resists a well-written second chance romance, but I go all weak-kneed when I come across a fresh take on this much-loved sub-genre, especially one penned by a favourite author of mine. Kylie Scott delivers an utterly unputdownable, unique rendering of true love and second chances—a tale that centres entirely on a heroine with no memory of the past or the man she once loved—showing how much our past experiences truly shape who we are. By delving deep into the rich emotional tapestry of a character who is experiencing all her firsts all over again, Scott crafts one of her loveliest, most touching romances to date, infusing each scene with her effortless, deadpan sense of humour, and balancing oh-so perfectly angst with steamy love scenes. Compulsively readable and compelling, this is the kind of story that leaves you pondering how much of the self actually remains when all memory is lost, and what you would do differently if you had a second chance at your own life.
My first memory is of waking up in this hospital, but really, I was born late at night on an inner-city street. A couple found me unconscious and bleeding on the sidewalk. No identification. Handbag and wallet missing. And the weapon, a blood-splattered empty bottle of scotch, lay abandoned nearby.
After waking up in hospital with a head injury, but with no memory whatsoever of who she is, twenty-five-year-old Clementine ‘Clem’ Johns begins tracing her past through any clues that might shed light on the life she led before her accident, and the person she used to be. Her search for clues soon leads her to Ed Larsen—the man whose heart she broke not even three months before—but from the moment she walks back into his life, he makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with her ever again.
I shrug. “It’s as good a label for her as any.”
“She’s you. You’re her.”
“Maybe. But she’s still a complete stranger to me.”
When Ed learns of Clem’s assault, however, he puts his feelings aside in order to protect a woman he once loved with all his heart, but while helping Clem recover the lost pieces of her identity, he soon discovers that a very different version of Clem has found her way back to him. As hard as he fights it, the spark between them only grows stronger, and the more they get to know each other again, the more they realise that unlike lightning, love can strike in the same place twice. But in Clem and Ed’s case, every new moment between them feels like it’s their first time.
“I figure you’re about fifty-three percent different.”
“Yep. I did the math. You only react the way I expect you to about half of the time.”
A constant thread of menace runs throughout the story, and as the narrative continues pinching in on the events that caused Clem’s amnesia from both sides, the air of foreboding grows more intense. Clem and Ed’s feelings for each other grow each day, but it is Clem’s newly discovered confidence in herself that becomes her greatest strength, so when danger finds them again, she fights it with all her might.
It’s amazing how insecurities can tear us apart.
Clem is a heroine whose memory loss should be the greatest obstacle to their romance, but instead it becomes an opportunity to turn around a relationship that was once plagued by frequent flares of jealousy and self-doubt on her part. We watch her discover the person she would have been had her perspective not been clouded by negative overlays from her past, distorting the ways she saw herself and others. Kylie Scott does a marvellous job of bringing her character to life and making the reader feel her every vulnerability. And as always, she elevates the novel with a colourful cast of supporting characters that bring humour and vitality to the plot, writing them into the story with effortless charm, and providing a great backdrop to a romance that perseveres through all odds. I haven’t met a Kylie Scott novel I did not love, but this might be one of my new favourites from her.
“Stay with me, Ed.”