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Amy Lee Goulden
Fate of the Unwilling
Amy Lee, author
What if you woke in a damp forest naked, bruised, and unable to remember your life—your name? Would you trust the deaf stranger whose embrace feels familiar? Or the cop who speaks to you like you’ve committed a crime? Silas offered a guest room. He even agreed to call her Daphne. But that’s not her name. She's three-thousand-miles away from home, and he doesn't believe in coincidences. Keeping an eye on her is the only way to protect his secrets and conceal their connection until he can determine her motives. Max doesn’t trust her. Any good detective can see through an amnesia act. He just has to prove it to get out of his patrol uniform for good. The only thing in the way is his brother. In this small harbor town, nothing is as it seems. And until she can piece together the shards of memory that come and go, she’s not telling them anything.
This twisty psychological thriller and love story—which jumps between Gig Harbor, Washington, and New York City—follows abused amnesiac Daphne as her memory slowly comes back, revealing a dark conspiracy that makes her doubt the motives of everyone she knows, even as the police doubt her. Daphne ends up in the care of Silas Wayland, who appears to have a job in the intelligence community. Silas's brother Max is the detective investigating the case, and the pair share a damaging secret from their past. In fact, everyone has a secret and a backstory, and Daphne's returning knowledge—and records she may have hidden away—remain a threat to people in her still-hidden personal and work lives.

Lee brings to life the many damaged characters with lavish prose: Daphne is described as "relying on the push-up bra and lace panties to build a costume of the confident woman she wanted to be." She does an especially good job with Silas, who is deaf, depicting his disability with humor and sensitivity. The burgeoning love affair between Silas and Daphne, as they attempt to cope with each other's wounds, comes across as real. The bond stands in stark contrast to the relationships Daphne had in her old life. It becomes increasingly clear that she’s now a different person. Not all of the subplots are neatly resolved, and the plotting occasionally relies too much on coincidence. However, the reemergence of Daphne's personality meshes beautifully with the solution to the mystery of her disappearance.

Indeed, it's the merger of plot and personality that gives this mystery its special flavor. Lee springs one surprise after another, leading readers to believe they have a handle on who Daphne is, only to deftly pull the rug from under them. The richly drawn characters—good and bad—all get what they deserve in the end, as the slyly surprising thriller comes to an unexpected yet satisfying conclusion.

Takeaway: Fans of romance and subtle psychological mysteries alike will find much to love in this thriller.

Great for fans of: Gillian Flynn, Mary Higgins Clark.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B+
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: B+