Catalina Cove, Book 2
Heat Factor: She literally orgasms just from kissing. On the mouth.
Character Chemistry: He’s the love of her life!
Plot: Ashley’s husband died in a car accident three years ago. But then she finds him again when she’s randomly on vacation. EXCEPT! He has amnesia.
Overall: I could not suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy this book.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Holly, you KNEW this was an AMNESIA book going into it. How could you not have been prepared to suspend your disbelief?!?!?!” Guys, I know. But also, the whole set up of she has to pretend that she doesn’t know him and then decides to seduce him again and will only tell him the truth of their relationship once he declares his love again so he can be with her without guilt was…a lot. The whole time, I was like, “JUST TELL HIM THE TRUTH! The doctors are wrong. Also, he can google you and find pictures of you with your dead husband, and how are you going to explain that?!?!?!”
A major component of this premise is that Ashley feels that her entire future happiness is at stake. She knows that Devon/Ray is the love of her life, and so puts an enormous amount of pressure on herself to perform perfectly:
More than anything, she had to remember that how she handled herself with him now could possibly determine if they had a future together. One wrong move on her part could end everything.
So melodramatic! But also – kinda sad? I really felt for her, because she does find herself in a pretty impossible situation.
On the other hand, the amnesia storyline did offer Jackson the opportunity to explore identity, and how our identity can change over time. Obviously, Devon/Ray is an extreme example of this, but the question remains: am I the same person I was five years ago? What about a person is intrinsic, and what is ephemeral?
So while I had trouble swallowing the premise, I will say that Jackson executed it well, especially towards the end as Ashley and Ray developed a relationship that was not predicated on their history.
Some additional random thoughts:
- My best guess about Ashley is that she’s either black or biracial. Late in the book, Ray describes her as looking like Meghan Markle and notes her brown skin. However, Jackson is pretty cagey about Ashley’s racial identity. The reader is repeatedly told about her brown eyes and her bangs and her outfits, and then there are minor hints about her skin color. (I have no idea about Ray – I just know that he has a beard now, and he used to be clean shaven.) I thought this was an interesting choice, especially given all the nonsense that’s been going on in the RWA regarding racist practices.
- Back when Ray was Devon, it sounds like he was kind of a douchebag? We know that he liked luxury goods (nice cars, nice clothes, etc). We know that the deal that he and Ashley made was that they would work hard for 5 years and then treat themselves, but that he reneged and bought a boat early but died before Ashley could have her baby. Not cool, man.
- Which brings me to motherhood. Good gravy, is Ashley obsessed with becoming a mother. I get it, some women really love kids, but the complete emphasis on a woman’s completion through motherhood was a bit grating. Especially the side character with an 18 year old and a 6 month old who was like, “I love motherhood and can’t wait to have another kid” as if she’s not an exhausted woman in her mid- to late-30s who is doing the whole thing all over again right when her first is FINALLY going to college.
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