Noah Landers wakes up with a throbbing headache and no idea where he is, who he is with, or even who he is himself. The man sitting with Noah explains that he is Jason O’Reilly, Noah’s boyfriend of six months, and they are in Jason’s cabin in Colorado. Noah was outside shoveling snow when he fell and hit his head, causing severe injury and amnesia. Unfortunately, the blinding snowstorm is making it impossible for emergency vehicles to get to them, so Jason is doing his best to care for Noah in the meantime until the weather clears.
At first Noah remembers absolutely nothing. Jason is wary about telling him too much for fear of influencing Noah’s feelings and memories. But soon bits and pieces begin to come back, raising some red flags with Noah. On one hand, his heart is telling him to trust Jason, that the man is someone he loves and cares about. On the other, some of the things Jason is telling him just don’t ring true on a gut level to Noah. Even worse, there are things that are clearly not adding up, things that make Noah further question whether Jason is telling him the truth about everything. Noah is weak and injured and trapped with Jason alone in the cabin, with no idea what is really happening between them. When Noah’s memories finally come flooding back, things are not all that they seem, and it may just destroy everything Noah thought they had together.
So I grabbed Whiteout right away as soon as I saw the amnesia theme, as that is pretty much crack to me (see my list of Favorite Amnesia Stories if you are also a fan). And I think Springer does a fabulous job with this element of the story. The book is broken down into two parts, the first focusing on the amnesia storyline. We are aware right away of this internal conflict in Noah between the emotional pull he has toward Jason and the memories and gut feelings he is having that make him question Jason’s veracity. Slowly bits of information come out, through Noah’s memories or conversations the guys have, that make it clear that all is not as it seems. This information is doled out at just the right time, giving us enough to raise our suspicions along with Noah and to question everything that is going on. The pacing here is great and it all comes to a head about halfway through the book as we finally learn the truth about the situation.
I will note that at times I found Noah’s behavior frustrating here as he seems to be letting his heart rule in places where his head should be taking over. There are some key things that happen that should make him seriously concerned about what is going on and greatly distrust Jason. Yet Noah lets his heart (along with his lust) guide him in many cases, ignoring the glaring warning signs that should be making him stay far away. I realize that this behavior works for the story, but it had me screaming through my Kindle at times that no matter how hot Jason is, you don’t sleep with a guy you think is lying about such crucial things.
The second half of the book follows the aftermath of the revelations that come when Noah’s memories return. This part is hard to talk about without ruining the excellent mystery side of things, as so much of the fun of this story comes in the beginning as we are slowly figuring things out. So I am going to be super vague here and say that the second part of the book deals with the guys working their way back to one another. We get a happy ending, and some needed character growth, and I think the pacing works well in making the ultimate relationship believable. This part definitely brings on the romantic mushiness, so it’s a clear change of tone from the first half. But I do think it works, especially as the book places a clear break in between the parts.
Just a note that Whiteout is the first book of Elyse Springer’s new Seasons of Love series. The later part of the book features the play Rent heavily, picking up on this theme. There are three more books planned, each featuring one of Noah’s friends who we meet in this first book, and each reflecting one of the seasons.
Overall I found this one really engaging and clever. Springer handles the amnesia end of the storyline really well, and it was nicely creepy with a slow reveal that went in an interesting direction. The story manages to take a crazy situation and bring it around to a nice mushy, romantic side, and pull it all together by the end. So I really enjoyed this one and definitely would recommend it.