What Lies Beneath
Do you remember the movie The English Patient, where we are left wondering just who the wounded man is? I didn’t wonder all that much because I pretty much knew from the beginning. This book is much like that film – we are meant to be wondering who the heroine is but I think most of us could guess fairly quickly.
She has the perfect life. She is Cynthia Dempsey, engaged to the stunningly successful, wealthy, and handsome Will Taylor. She is a high society success story, with a lucrative career in advertising and an even more lucrative family. But she remembers nothing and no one. The plane crash that caused her to undergo some minor plastic surgery left a massive memory loss behind. Even her lover is a mystery to her, though the kind, handsome Will is someone she is anxious to come to know again. Can they rebuild what the crash so callously destroyed?
Will Taylor can’t believe Cynthia forgot their breakup. It was hard enough to go through it the first time with his cold, calculating, cheating fiance. This fragile, lovely young woman who has taken her place makes it almost possible to think that things have changed, that they have a second chance. But is that what he really wants? What if the real Cynthia – the woman he’d come to dislike – makes a reappearance? Can he risk his heart twice with the same woman?
Cynthia and Will share everything but a bed as she slowly gets back on her feet. Cynthia is not only a kinder, gentler person but a wiser and thriftier one as well. Will is really loving getting to know this young lady who enjoys hot dogs from vending carts and dresses in funky, fun clothes. The old Cynthia would have demanded gourmet food and designer clothing. And Cynthia is loving every moment she spends with Will. Yet she is disturbed by her inability to remember her mom and dad, her job, or even the basics of her former life. As she finds herself not only displaying a new character and fashion sense but completely unseen talents she becomes increasingly troubled. Just why did she come back a completely different person?
Right off I had a stumbling block with the title of this book. I remember when the Harrison Ford thriller of the same name came out and I have to say that I find What Lies Beneath to be much more appropriate for a creepy suspense film than a romance. And this was very much a typical romance. I had no sense of impending doom or danger from the story. It was a romance with a mildly unusual premise but romantic suspense? Not so much. Just to throw it out there, I also had a wee bit of difficulty with Cynthia’s sense of style Early in the novel we are told it is reminiscent of eighties fashion and I had a horrible flashback to the clothes of that decade. Shudder. Some things just shouldn’t return and the colors fuchsia and teal in a party dress are one of them – especially a party dress for a grown woman. Neither of these things counted in my overall grade, but I thought them worth mentioning since they impacted my reading experience.
The book is short and Ms. Laurence has an easy writing style, so this made for a quick afternoon read. My only struggle came in with the fact that it had an odd combination of serious and light. Will and Cynthia had a really sweet courtship which was very pleasant and easy to read. But Cynthia was dealing with some major issues, which contrasted with the nature of their relationship. I also struggled a lot with the unbelievability of everything. With medical technology being what it is I couldn’t believe the major mistake made wasn’t caught. And while I know we would like to believe that all rich, pretty women pay for their good fortune by being witches, I struggled to accept that all Will was looking for was a nice girl. He had never met a nice girl before Cynthia changed? Really? The new Cynthia really didn’t share that much in common with Will. Sure she was sweet, but a lot of women are. What made her his special match? I never really get a sense of that.
While this is labeled a Harlequin Desire I really didn’t feel the heat between Cynthia and Will. There just wasn’t a lot of passion between them before or after they finally got together.
This book is a cut above many because it is such a quick, easy, pleasant read. Everyone in it is a nice person whom you wouldn’t mind spending time with. I wish I didn’t have to damn it with faint praise, but there is nothing much more to it than that. Then again, sometimes that’s enough.