Review: Forgotten by Maggie Shayne

MaggieShayneForgottenApparently long-time romantic suspense writer Maggie Shayne decided to go indie, and has republished some of her back catalog under new titles and in new “series”. Among these was her 1994 novel, Forgotten Vows, which was re-released as Forgotten under the “Shayne’s Supernaturals” series. I bought it last year, and then apparently at some point it was yanked and re-released again under the same title but now listed as part of the “Shattered Sisters” series and under a new ASIN (so all the reviews of the old one went away including mine).

Apparently the latter re-do is also an update, however doing a quick comparison between the available Look Inside of this one and my copy only showed primarily grammar/sentence edits versus any actual story changes. The first two chapters, at least, were pretty much the same other than a few tweaks to sentences here and there.

The Set Up

Reporter Ash Coye is faking amnesia to buy some time after a serial killer’s attempt on his life. So when a hottie on a Harley shows up at his bedside claiming to be his wife, he has to pretend to believe her.

Joey Bradshaw knows lying to a guy with no memory is cruel, but if it keeps him alive and stops The Slasher, it’s worth it. The sizzling attraction between her and her make believe husband, however, is an unexpected complication.

My Views

First, the good stuff.  I loved our heroine Joey.  She was a woman ahead of her time for the original release, and still an overall great female character now.  She was strong, independent and lived life her own way.  Sure, she has moments of weaknesses, particularly later in the story, but I felt it made for good balance and made her more normal and human.  The summary fails to mention an important part of the story, namely that Joey is a psychic and has had visions of Ash’s death, which is why she decides to save him.  Psychics in fiction can be hit or miss, but I’ve always felt Shayne did a good job of making them feel authentic and realistic, while giving them appropriate limits.

Despite Joey’s good points, there were a few things that really bugged me, enough to ruin the good.  One, she somehow fell for the hero who spent most of the novel being a backwards-thinking, ridiculously judgmental, sexist jackass.  Two, her feelings around her father’s mistakes two decades or so ago were so beyond over-the-top that they came across as ludicrous.  And three, she has a serious “too stupid too live” moment during the story’s climax after having mostly acted intelligently the rest of the story.

As you might have guessed, I did not like “hero” Ash at all.  I had no issue with him lying to her since she was lying to him too, but he was just such a freaking jerk. And his ideas about an ideal woman? I mean seriously – if a woman went along with his seduction on the first date and slept with him, she was a whore unworthy of a repeat date and certainly not marriage?  Hello, there is a significant difference between a prostitute (and yes, seriously, he thought that) and being okay with sex early in a relationship. He also proclaimed that women who stay in shape or work out are “unfeminine”…  He was so “alpha” that he even presumed he should be the one to drive HER Harley the day they met because it seemed a “bit much” for a “little thing” like her??  I mean seriously!?

I get that his backstory was supposed to explain away his being a jerk, but it didn’t and it doesn’t.  Crappy childhood doesn’t excuse being a jerk.  His treatment and thoughts on Joey were just horrible, and he deserved more than one slap for some of the stuff he said and thought.    Still, I managed to push through and unlike many stories from this time frame with that kind of hero, he does actually get over himself and realize how awesome Joey is.  There is a great scene as well, where his own fears haunt him, that makes him a little easier to less actively hate.  Still, Joey was way too good for him and deserved better.

I also found the villain of the piece too easy to figure out and I usually suck at doing it.  One of my draws to the story was the psychic element, and while it was well handled, it was also not particularly prominent and at times almost felt forgotten.   This one came across as significantly weaker, writing wise, as some of Shayne’s newer works, and lacked the type of suspense found in another of her paranormal romances, Gingerbread Man. Even the serial killer takes a backseat for a good chunk of the novel, other than prodding the couple closer together.

The age of the piece left it feeling It certainly explains the dated feel to it and the weaker storytelling.  I found a few places where the POV slipped midscene, though that may be a formatting misstep with the Kindle re-release (and possibly fixed in the newer version).  

I found Forgotten to be fairly predictable and dated, even with the update.  It was a decent enough read to pass an insomnia filled early morning with, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it for a relaxing evening unless you really love alpha male jerks who might leave you cussing at your Kindle.  

Rating: 3/5 stars