Series: Hot Aussie Knights #1
Published by Tule Publishing Pages: 152
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"I never thought I'd get a second chance at a first time with you."
Firefighter Logan Knight thinks it's fate when he meets Arabella Tucker again, nine years after their brief, intense relationship ended. Until he realizes that Bella doesn't recognize him and all of their memories together are completely erased from her memory.
Bella may be oblivious to their history but she can’t deny their scorching chemistry and the possibility of a future with the mystery man from her past. Logan wants a future too, but he can’t go there until Bella knows everything they shared. Her parents, though, want to protect her from the emotional cost of old memories and so Logan is reluctantly persuaded to let the past lie.
But when Bella starts to uncover the truth, she is shocked by the revelations. Can she move beyond the hurt of her shared history with Logan and begin their new story?
Amy Andrews’s take on the second-chance trope is by far, one of the most angsty and the most intense one I’ve read in this genre.
‘Hot Mess’ is a story of heartbreak and rediscovery (with a huge twist written into this trope), and while not entirely unpredictable, does have the elements of deception (even though executed with the best of intentions) and misplaced hope that form the main conflict of the narrative. The coincidental meeting of Logan and Belle starts it all off when Logan gets the biggest shock of his life to learn that Belle has no recollection of their tumultuous past at all after a traumatic accident that stole 9 years of her memories from her. As they reconnect, Logan is desperate for their past to resurface, but it never does and that alone, strains their newfound relationship.
Andrews articulates the process of grief eloquently enough that I could empathise with both Logan and Belle. The former had never stopped hoping for a miracle that never came, leaving him alone to shoulder the burden of their difficult past and that made me feel for him, caught as he was between Belle’s parents and his desire to move onwards with her. Belle on the other hand, had gone through so much on her own and faced a different kind of pressure in her inability to make herself remember, then condemning herself when she couldn’t.
But there isn’t a medical miracle here by any stretch and that alone makes the journey ahead so much harder for both of them. Andrews definitely paints a realistic portrait of what happens when memories are lost forever, and with them, how the pain and the heartbreak that will now stay irretrievably lost because one party cannot remember anything of that time period at all. Both Logan and Belle had been so brave, though it was harder for me to accept Belle walking away so quickly after vowing to fight for Logan this time around. That it was up to Logan to grovel in the end made me wish that Belle had a bit more courage in her to move forward and stick with that decision instead of running when she couldn’t handle things, especially since it actually had to take an accident for her to change her mind about them. Their HEA, after they finally hit rock-bottom the second time around, is a bittersweet one and you do feel as though the characters have sweated blood and tears to get where they needed to be, whether by fate or by coincidence.
‘Hot Mess’ by and large, did surprise me and it’s mostly because I’ve never quite read a second-chance romance like this. But it’s a hard book to ‘like’ because of the subject matter and as morose as I felt at the end, that’s in no way a judgement on Andrews’s deft writing at all.