I admit it: I love amnesia books, especially where the amnesiac is the hero. I know it’s overused and medically inaccurate, but something about a strong man made uncertain and confused by a loss of memory really appeals to me. It’s not just an effective romance novel plot point, either: I’ve read excellent amnesia books in the mystery, science fiction, and fantasy genres as well. If, like me, you enjoy this plot device, you’ll find that Virginia Kantra’s Stolen Memory is quite good; certainly good enough to spend $4.99 and an afternoon reading.
Laura Baker is a police detective in the lakeside Illinois town of Eden, which should be familiar to those who have read this author’s other books. The local multi-millionaire, Simon Ford, calls her out to his island mansion; he has been robbed and assaulted. He is confused and troubled, and his story doesn’t make a lot of sense. Simon and Laura are immediately attracted to each other, and Simon instinctively knows that he can trust her. And he desperately needs someone to trust – due to a knock on the head that must have happened during the burglary, he doesn’t remember who he is or anything about his past.
Laura is impressed by Simon, but horrified when she learns that the security guard on duty the night of the robbery was Pete Swirsky, her estranged father. She is immediately removed from the case, and the detective who takes over pursues Swirsky as his prime suspect. But Simon trusts Laura, and wants her on the case; he convinces her to go on investigating in her spare time, posing as his girlfriend as an excuse to stay close to him. Laura reluctantly agrees, telling him that she only wants to clear her father’s name – and has no interest in Simon.
Both our leads are intelligent and likable people. I grew extremely fond of Simon, who is both an amnesiac hero and a geek hero. He spends most of his time I his lab tinkering around with lasers and other prototypes. As well as doing R&D, he also somehow manages to run his large and prosperous company (okay, that’s a bit unlikely, but fortunately the book doesn’t really go into what must be an impossible schedule). As he learns more about himself, he discovers that he comes from a dysfunctional family and doesn’t have a good relationship with his siblings, something that he painfully regrets. We gather that he has lived in chilly isolation for most of his life – an isolation that his amnesia forces him to break, as he must lean on Laura for help. He doesn’t resent her for that; actually, he is extremely sweet. He also wants her, but she resists starting a relationship with him. His patience in wooing her really won my heart.
Laura’s troubled relationship with her father is well-drawn, and it explains a lot about her prickly attitude towards getting involved with Simon. Not only is she bitterly estranged from her family, but she’s working in a mostly-male police department, and is very defensive about her independence. Laura’s slow realization that it will be okay to let Simon into her life could have been annoying, especially considering how wonderful Simon is; but the author does an excellent job of making Laura real and sympathetic.
In my experience, Virginia Kantra has never written a bad book. Stolen Memory is no exception. If the amnesia thing doesn’t bother you, snatch it up without delay; it’s a very good read.