What Memories Remain
by Cait London, contemporary (2004)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-055588-2

Gawd, this book is a chore to suffer through. It is overloaded with all sorts of angsts and baggages, all dealt with in a soap-opera manner, and the hero's nasty aunt only adds to my headache because That Woman is such a lazy plot device on Cait London's part to increase the already saturated number of conflicts in this story. Like many of this author's previous books, the angsts and moanfests often overwhelm the romance.

In fact, I have a hard time trying to summarize the story because there are so many things happening here in one convoluted mess. Molly Claire was once attacked as a child, but she represses the memories of that incident. Still, she experiences nightmares constantly about the Night Man (don't laugh, people, she's hurting after all) telling her that he's coming to get her. As a grown up, she has changed her name to Cyd Callahan and she's now a real estate agent. She is foiled in her latest project by Ewan Lochlain, her teenaged love who went away and is now back in Fairy Cove.

Ewan is in town to investigate the death of his parents and to reestablish his relationship with his estranged sister Hallie. As he starts dragging those skeletons out of the family closet (and it's a big closet), he and Molly feel an attraction to each other that hasn't been extinguished despite the passing of time. But someone is stalking Molly. Has this anything to do with Ewan's parents? Why is Ewan's aunt so hell-bent in driving Ewan out of town? Stay tuned, but have a bottle of Midol at hand just in case.

Every major character in this book is abused or tortured in so many ways, ways that at the same time are clichés. Molly and Ewan are always ready to shoulder the guilt when the people around them are tortured, abused, or murdered, as if they aren't already burdened enough with psychological slabs of ham. The romance between Ewan and Cyd come off as an unhealthy alternative to therapy (therapy doesn't exist in this book) instead of something to root for. The secrets all swirl into an over-the-top and oh-so-convenient denouement that miraculously makes our main characters happy all over again.

Overloaded with derivative and uninspired treatment of "angst-ridden romance" clichés, What Memories Remain is operating on the assumption that it isn't the quality but the quantity of clichéd woes, guilt, and torments that counts. As a result, Ewan and Molly are very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very tortured and very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very miserable people. Maybe it's an indication of how late Ms London is when she misses the boat because there's nowhere in this book that explains to me why those two very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very sad people don't just get some therapy or at least a big bottle of Prozac.

Rating: 48

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