White Lies, by Linda Howard

>> Friday, November 28, 2003

I'm in a Linda Howard mood these days. White Lies was the only Howard left in my TBR pile.

Nothing could have prepared Jay Granger for the arrival of two FBI agents at her door -- or for the news they brought. Her ex-husband, Steve, had been in a terrible accident that had left him gravely injured. The FBI needed Jay to confirm his identity.

The man Jay finds lying in the hospital bed is almost unrecognizable. Almost. Exhausted and afraid, Jay tentatively declares that he is Steve Crossfield. But the man who awakens from the coma is not at all as Jay remembers her husband. And he remembers nothing of their life together. Suddenly nothing is familiar. Not his appearance, not the intensity of his nature, not the desire that flashes between them. Who is this man? And will the discovery of his identity shatter the passion they share?
Quite, quite good. A B+.

I should note this is the last in a quartet, of which I've read the second one, Diamond Bay. White Lies reads perfectly well as a single title, though, so no need to read any of the others beforehand.

This was a quick read. I loved that it had an interesting conflict, but nevertheless, it was completely focused on the romance. The suspense subplot was resolved off-scene, and this is something I like very much. I know many people feel cheated when this happens, but what can I say? I'm weird that way.

The romance is pretty good. Really, what chemistry! I might have certain problems with Linda Howard's heros, but nobody does sexual tension like her. And I especially liked the way Jay and Steve (that's what I'm going to call him, to avoid spoilers) actually fell for each other without having any idea of what the other looked like (or would look like after the bandages were lifted, in Jay's case). I really bought these two were really in love and not only lust.

As for the characters I found Steve a little too arrogant, too stereotypical possessive, all powerful macho man, though having him helpless throughout most of the book tempered him a bit. Jay I liked very much, though Howard's portrayal of her at the beginning seemed to imply that all career women have to be hard ball-breakers, otherwise they cannot do well. I found this attitude old-fashioned, and very suggestive of an anti-feminist attitude on her part. Still, Jay is no doormat heroine. She allowed herself to be convinced to stay with her ex husband, but my impression was that this happened only because of the point in her life where she was, just fired from her job, a bit depressed and completely stressed out. There really was no reason why she should have said no when approached by the FBI.

She more than held her own with Steve, not letting him run roughshod over her. And I really liked that she actually ended up protecting him just as much as he protected her.

Finally, about the plot itself, it was well constructed, if a little farfetched. I don't usually find myself enjoying an amnesia story!

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