I’m a sucker for an amnesia story. I know they’re not realistic. Retrograde amnesia is really rare and not at all romantic. But I don’t care. I’m going to read my amnesia stories. And it’s probably not a coincidence that Total Recall (the original Schwarzenegger version) is one of my all-time favorite movies.
Unlike many amnesia stories, To Love and To Cherish isn’t a second chance romance. When Nash wakes up, he learns that he and Emmett—a doctor he’d known professionally but not romantically—have recently become engaged and assumes they must have been in love. But really, it was going to be a marriage of convenience. So this has both the marriage of convenience and amnesia tropes working for it. Mostly, I just love watching Nash and Emmett fall in love.
The book features two medical professionals, so Addison has been unusually accurate with the medical details, including showing Nash going into opioid withdrawal when it’s time to come off his pain meds.
In The River Leith by Leta Blake, the medical aspect is downplayed, but Leith, the injured character, has multiple revelations to work through. The last he knew, he was straight, so his doctor decides not to shock him with the truth all at once. His boyfriend, Zach, gets introduced as a roommate. That means The River Leith is a bi-awakening story and a second-chance romance in addition to being an amnesia romance.
Because of everything Leith doesn’t know, the situation is especially poignant for Zach. He has truly lost his boyfriend because he doesn’t even know if Leith will re-discover his sexuality, never mind come to love him again.
Leta, as always, paints vivid pictures with genuine characters. Some reviewers felt like there was too much emphasis on how the situation affected Zach (content warning for cheating), but I like characters who are human. A situation like this would be tremendously difficult for the partner left behind, even as they recognize that the injured partner has things worse.
If Zach in The River Leith is a little too human, Dallas in Missing Pieces by N. R. Walker is your perfect book boyfriend, unendingly patient, loving, and kind.
Unlike in many amnesia stories, there’s no big secret here. Justin doesn’t remember Dallas, but he knows he’s gay, and he learns who Dallas is as soon as he learns about the amnesia. So the three-book series focuses not on sudden reveals or dramatic situations but on slow growth.
Justin’s recovery is carefully described and very realistic. He has a long road full of challenges ahead of him. He isn’t having sex in his hospital bed, which, uh, might happen in the next book on the list. He and Dallas rebuild their relationship as slowly as Justin rebuilds his body. Justin does eventually remember some parts of their past, but the focus is on him falling in love with Dallas all over again, and Dallas is so worthy of being loved.
Home Again by Cardeno C definitely plays a little fast and loose with the medical details. If you’ve been injured enough to get amnesia and are literally still in the hospital, you’re probably not up for sex yet. But let’s wave that away and enjoy the trope.
As in To Love and To Cherish, there’s a secret hiding behind the amnesia. Noah remembers Clark—remembers loving him and having sex with him and living with him. What he doesn’t remember is that they broke up.
Clark is a cinnamon roll if there ever was one. A sweet, wonderful man who dives right into taking care of Noah even though he hasn’t seen him in years. The book includes chapters from both the current time period and their past , so we see them fall in love the first time as we watch them work through the reason they broke up so they can be together again.
My own amnesia story, Forget I Told You, doesn’t have a medical component. Jay is perfectly healthy at the start of the book, living what appears to be a happy and normal life with a wife and a job. It’s only as the story goes on that we learn he’s not who he thinks he is.
Does that sound like the plot for Total Recall? Yeah, okay, I started with the same premise. Forget I Told You is set in the present with no aliens or Sci-Fi elements of any kind, but similarly to how Schwarzenegger’s character recognizes his soul mate when he sees her again, Jay recognizes Deron. And in another parallel, when he learns he has amnesia, he also learns he did it to himself. On purpose.
The question is why. Is it possible he was actually hiding from Deron? Jay doesn’t need to learn to love Deron again, but he does need to learn to trust him again.