Thank you for hosting me today, Mad! I’m excited to dish about the romance trope I love to hate (and hate to love) and how I gave it my own unique spin.
We romance readers love a good trope…or twelve. Some of my favorites include the alpha who needs a mate (paranormal), the wealthy rake marries the destitute or dishonored noblewoman (historical), the modern-day heroine falls for the historical man (time-travel), the vampire who can’t help but read people’s thoughts finds sweet relief in the special human woman whose mind is a blank to him (paranormal), and the old standby, tough chick decides love is for idiots and masochists.
Then there’s the amnesia trope. Some love it. Some hate it. But one thing’s for sure. It sells. People gobble it up. What’s the draw of an amnesia trope? A couple of things, I think, and I’m by no means an expert since I’ve only read a handful of books with this trope.
First, we love a good power imbalance. In DEAD TO THE WORLD (Charlaine Harris), the dynamic between Sookie and Eric in books 1-3 gets flipped on its head for book 4. Suddenly Sookie’s the one calling the shots and making provisions for the vampire who can’t remember who he is. It’s delicious because Eric had been such a jerk to her at times, and we get to see Sookie rise above all that and extend a grudge-free helping hand to the vampire.
Another thing we love about the amnesia trope is the fresh perspective it lends to the character suffering the amnesia. Suddenly a bad breakup can be looked at through a lens free of emotional pain. New discoveries can be made and new chances can be had as a result. This happened in Brynn Paulin’s FORGOTTEN FAMILY, a menage novella in which the heroine (Marina) in a m/m/f triad loses her memory. Her heroes (Kyle and Marcus) bring her home from the hospital and treat her with kid gloves. As she recovers her health, she learns that she had actually left these men, but she doesn’t remember why, and they’re not telling. It’s a great foundation for a mystery. It gives her a chance to get to know them (and their bodies, because this is definitely erotica) without the emotional burden of whatever drove their happy family apart.
Another way amnesia can be used to drive a novel’s tension is by giving characters a chance to overlook their prejudices. In TEMPTING THE BRIDE by Sherry Thomas, the heroine (Helena) has hated the hero (David) with the fire of a thousand suns ever since their childhood. When she suffers amnesia, she has a chance to get to know the adult David without her memory of the cocky, prank-playing child-David who made her adolescence a living hell. She gets to see what a fabulous man he has turned into, and what a wonderful father he is to his daughter who has Asperger’s Syndrome (see also the add-a-kid trope).
In my new release ROAD RAGE, I add my own twist to the amnesia trope. My heroine, Cami, gets in a car accident, and is in a coma in the hospital. But she takes on semi-corporeal form in the bedroom of the man who caused the accident. While she’s a “ghost” she can’t remember who she is or what happened to her. I did this to give her the chance to get to know her hero, Derek, without the obvious prejudice she’d have if she knew he was the man who acted out at her on the freeway and caused her injuries. While Derek has done something unconscionable, he is a good guy at heart, and once he takes responsibility for his anger and the bad decisions he has made, he becomes a hero worthy of compassionate Cami. I needed her to give Derek a fighting chance, and memory loss helped me do that.
These are some of the reasons I love a good amnesia trope, emphasis on GOOD. One of the things I loathe about an amnesia trope and one reason I’ll put down a book and not read on is when the medical aspects are overlooked. If amnesia is the ONLY symptom, I don’t find that realistic. While Cami, my heroine in ROAD RAGE got off pretty easy in that she’ll recover fully from her traumatic brain injury, I made an effort to show consequences other than just memory loss and coma. She sees a speech therapist and a physical therapist. Her head is shaved, and she’s missing a piece of her skull and therefore has to wear a helmet at all times…not very sexy, unless you’re her hero, Derek. He finds just about everything about Cami sexy, and he’s determined to be a better man for her.
What’s your favorite book with an amnesia trope? What draws you in or turns you off in an amnesia trope?
Read on to learn more about ROAD RAGE. Leave a comment to enter my giveaway of one ecopy of ROAD RAGE. I’ll choose and notify a winner on Friday. Be sure to leave your email address if I don’t know you!
Lashing out in anger, construction worker Derek causes an accident on the freeway. His truck escapes unscathed, but he can’t say the same for his conscience. Plagued by nightmares of the wreck, his only comfort comes in the form of nightly visits by a mysterious woman who interrupts his dreams with sensual caresses and words of solace.
Cami has no idea who she is, until she wakes in a hospital bed and learns she’s been comatose due to a car wreck. Her visits with Derek must have been a dream, so why can’t she shake the feeling he was a real man who truly needed her help?
When Derek learns his mystery woman is none other than the driver of the car he cut off and she is fighting for her life, he must decide: Is he man enough to face her and ask forgiveness, or will he run away and avoid the consequences of his anger, yet again?
CONTENT WARNING: Sex with a perfect, imaginary dream girl who really isn’t imaginary
A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance
Jessi Gage links
Thanks again for having me Mad!