It’s only been a handful of months since Nash Merino’s engagement came to a messy, if bizarre, end. While Nash isn’t exactly bitter over the whole ordeal—he’ll even defend his ex against his best friend’s harsh criticism—he’s not unchanged. The difference is that, well, now Nash is convinced that love is a myth and the best he can hope for is someone who’s agreeable and with whom he can participate in regular monogamous sex. And that’s the sum total of it.
Nash reaches this epiphany one day in the canteen while bemoaning his lack of a love life with his fellow nurse and friend Angela. Little did they know Doctor Myles Italus Burlingham was within earshot.
Dr. Burlingham has recently become a hot gossip topic because his marriage is reportedly falling apart; his wife is pregnant with another man’s baby and the two adulterers are set to marry. In a twist only slightly less bizarre than the reason for Nash and Sam’s aborted engagement, Dr. Burlingham turns out to be what his own grandfather calls “funny.” That is to say, he could happily carry on a romantic relationship with a man…and he’s game to try one with Nash. One thing leads to another and after an intense encounter about Nash’s lunch-time discussion about love versus compatibility, Myles Burlingham and Nash Merino agree to marry—for the sake of everyone’s convenience.
Days before the low-key nuptials, Nash encounters an errant bird while zipping down the freeway at top speed. The accident leaves his arm broken and, worse yet, his memory a bit scrambled. When he wakes up post-op, Nash’s first concern is for his fiancee—Sam. Over the course of the next several weeks, he has to figure out what happened during the last four months of his life and how he went from being engaged to the love of his life (Sam) to Dr. Burlingham—the man to whom Nash ideologically knows he’s engaged to, the man who is so clearly in love with Nash, and the man Nash only remembers as an aloof, straight colleague.
Okay, so my synopsis reads like a train wreck and I know I’ve called out other stories for being over ambitious in terms of plot devices…and yet, all this just seems to work here. I am sort of in awe with the way Albright is able, once again, to pull together so many different elements into a cohesive whole without making the reader feel overwhelmed.
First, although Nash does appear in small quantities in the prequel story (Til Death Do Us Part) and is the catalyst for some hefty soul searching therein, I am pretty confident that you don’t have to read Til Death Do Us Part to enjoy this story (but I would certainly recommend it if you like suspense and moral quandaries). There is a bit of “cross over” between the two stories, but each book builds the action around nearly wholly separate casts of characters. Surprisingly, I tend to be wary of “series” that aren’t continuations of the same overarching story and yet I was thoroughly invested in these characters.
Nash is a great character. I found him delightfully complex and relatable. Sometimes he demonstrates wonderful maturity (not blaming his ex for calling off their engagement), other times he’s prone to rash outbreaks of emotion (driving his reaction to Myles once he regains all his amnesia memories). I liked how Albright clearly paints a picture of a man who’s broken engagement lands him back at “square one” and that situation clearly shapes his current world view; however, his subsequent experience of amnesia allows him to re-discover not only himself, but uncover the secret heart of the new man in his life.
One of the best parts for me was guessing what the big conflict would be…because a marriage of convenience with a colleague and getting amnesia aren’t conflict-y enough, right? Still, the more I read, the more I realized that wasn’t the main point of the story—just accidentally falling in love with someone you married for convenience or the amnesia trope. It boiled down to one of two things: either there would be a huge misunderstanding with a potential rival for either Nash’s or Myles’ affections (the vehicles of either being the former fiance and an attractive in-home helper respectively) or something about Nash’s forgotten past would ruin his future. There are little hints all along from the moment Nash wakes up with amnesia, but I still enjoyed a sense of suspense about how the main conflict would present itself and how it would be resolved.
All in all, this is an excellent read! It’s a quirky get-together that takes the common marriage-of-convenience trope and turns it into something infinitely sweeter by the clever use of the amnesia trope, culminating in a rather satisfying story. If you like either of these tropes or stories with low-key suspense (no murders or gore or anything, but always the question of “what about if/when Nash remembers?!”), then you’d definitely enjoy this book.