Amnesia romance narrative? Sold. I love the possibilities of what it allows the romance genre to explore: how the familiar is skewed for the character without memory, how it is anchored for those who are possessed of memory and how the twain can’t meet. And I’d read and enjoyed Becky Wade in the past. Much of what I enjoyed then is still present and something more besides: as Wade is no longer under the constraints of traditional Christian publishers, she includes narrative elements worth exploring, make for something deeper, more real, and interesting. But there are also losses, all of which I’ll discuss by and by. For now, the blurb to help orient us with some detail:
After surviving a trauma several years back, Remy Reed relocated to a cottage on one of Maine’s most remote islands. She’s arranged her life just the way she wants it, spending her time working on her wood sculptures and soaking in the beauty of nature. It’s quiet and solitary—until the day she spots something bobbing in the ocean.
Her binoculars reveal the “something” to be a man, and he’s struggling to keep his head above water. She races out to save him and brings him into her home. He’s injured, which doesn’t detract from his handsomeness nor make him any easier to bear. He acts like a duke who’s misplaced his dukedom . . . expensive tastes, lazy charm, bossy ideas.
Remy would love nothing more than to return him to his people, but he has no recollection of his life prior to the moment she rescued him. Though she’s not interested in relationships other than the safe ones she’s already established, she begins to realize that he’s coming to depend on her. Who is he? What happened that landed him in the Atlantic Ocean? And why is she drawn to him more and more as time goes by? There’s no way to discover those answers except to walk beside him down memory lane.
I absolutely loved Memory Lane‘s first third, not that I didn’t enjoy the rest, but this was the no-identity-amnesia part AND it was forced proximity and it had BANTER between a privileged, memory-less dukely-behaving hero and a sarcastic, down-to-earth, buttoned-up heroine. What more could a romance reader ask for? I don’t want to make it sound as if the all the delights of Remy and “Jonah’s” (so dubbed, until his identity is revealed, because he was “spit” out of the ocean) exchanges end with the first third, by no means; they are as delightful and fun at the end as they are at the start. (Wade can do witty and fun as much as she can do serious.) Note this exchange between Remy and “Jonah” when “Jonah’s” family claims him and he and Remy make their way to his house:
“A fitting home for a duke,” she remarked. “Is there a pond nearby? If so, all that’s missing is for you to dive into it wearing breeches and a white shirt.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“That’s a Mr. Darcy reference.”
“I’m proud to say I don’t get it.”
And this is only one of many sharp little Remy-“Jonah” exchanges. Even when “Jonah” realizes he’s smitten with Remy, as he tries to convince her they should be together, their conversations remain infused with fun references and gentle sparring. Remy’s reasons are deep and interesting for her “Jonah” resistance, thanks to Wade’s breaking free of certain inspie romance “taboos”, but they are also delightfully fun because of Remy and Jonah’s “opposites-attract” conceit.
Despite Wade’s Pride and Prejudice reference in the above exchange, Memory Lane is more Jane Eyre than P&P. There is, we discover as “Jonah’s” life is revealed, an OW and she has all the traits of the worst vintage romance. The OW is also bound up with a mystery-suspense plot which makes for an introduction to sequel-bait hero Jude, “Jonah’s” brother. There are also TWO secondary romances and a massive backstory to Remy…frankly, I was exhausted by it all. Were it not for Wade’s ability, as I gushed above, for witty banter and lovable protagonists, I would have abandoned what is, at BEST, uneven plotting and bloated narrative. A more able editing hand would have made for a better, tighter romance…sans reader skimming. Should you read it? Surely for Remy and “Jonah” and their heart-warming, well-deserved journey to the HEA, but be warned, “skimming” the bloated bits will happen. Will I read the next “sons of scandal”, Jude’s story? I will, but I’ll be hoping for a good “skim” off the top of the narrative dross.
(This is still an inspirational romance, with “Jonah”‘s faith contrasted to Remy’s “abandonment” by God and there is a conversion, but the faith element takes up only a minimal portion of page count.)
Becky Wade’s self-published Memory Lane released on Valentine’s Day of this year. I received an e-ARC from the author, via Netgalley, for the purpose of writing this review, and which does not influence my opinion.
4 thoughts on “Review: Becky Wade’s MEMORY LANE (Sons of Scandal #1)”
There is such a danger for previously traditionally published authors who go the self-published route, where they want to be unencumbered by arbitrary editorial constraints (in this case, rigid Christian/inspirational publishing), and so they seem to eschew any and all editorial input.
And this is a big, sometimes career-killing mistake. Because, as Nora Roberts famously said (back when she commented on readers’ blogs with some regularity), “everyone needs a good editor”.
I’ve recently read a book that suffered from this kind of malady, and while it’s clear the author can tell a good tale, the uneven writing and extraneous plot threads, didn’t inspire in me a burning desire to read anything else by her.
I might, if someone I trust recommends it, or if the blurb is extra intriguing and the price is right (or if the book is free, maybe), but I will not ‘look for’ her work.
Yes, I totally get that and agree. I actually avoid most self-published work for that very reason, it’s weakly edited, or poorly and it’s a rare author who can pull this off.
Wade definitely suffers from too many plot threads, abrupt scene and perspective shifts (like “where did THAT come from? or downright confusion on the reader’s part, “what’s going on?” and not in a good, this is complex way, just sloppy). BUT to see her tackle some really interesting issues was, I thought, refreshing in an inspie romance. And to maintain what I liked about her in the first place, the fun banter and pretty fast-paced too kept me reading. I good pruning would have done this a world of good.
Mme Roberts is, as always, wise!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I do hope that more self-published authors realize that investing on good content editing is to their benefit; pruning extraneous matter in a manuscript isn’t ‘stifling creativity’ any more than it ‘killing the rosebush’ in gardening.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Absolutely, don’t cut corners, especially on the self-pub texts.
LikeLiked by 1 person