Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defies all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him?
Twenty-four-year-old Jesse Welles doesn’t know how long it will be before Water gets her memory back. For her sake, Jesse hopes the answer is never. He knows that she’ll stay so much safer—and happier—that way. And that’s why, as hard as it is, he needs to keep his distance. Because getting too close could flood her with realities better left buried.
The trouble is, water always seems to find its way to the surface.
This book begins with an EPIC prologue that had me hooked form the get-go. The story is told from two POVs. The female’s POV is told in the present, after the prologue. The male POV is told in the past, before the prologue. And both POVs lead us to the tragic day when a woman’s life would change forever.
After the prologue, which I’ll leave for you to read because my words won’t be able to capture the weight of it (you can read it below), Alexandra finds herself in a hospital. But she has no memory of her prior life or who she is. We learn from Jesse’s POV that that might actually be a good thing.
Alexandria is stuck in a horrible marriage. Her husband, Viktor Petrova, is not the man she thought she married. He’s abusive, unfaithful, and his job is very sketchy.
As the connection between them grows, so does the danger. Because of the prologue, you know that danger is very real. It had me thinking of how the two of them could have avoided the tragic results, and they almost do avoid it. Almost.
As this story alternates POVs and switching from the past to the present, you can see Alex’s new life in the present. First as Jane Doe and then as Water, a name she comes up with based on a tattoo on her body. The story behind it is locked away with all of her other memories, but she still connects with it and makes it her official new name.
“I want to be like water, too. I want to be resilient, to go where I’m meant to go.”
I loved how Water builds her new life. She meets a cantankerous, eccentric woman, Ginny, who agrees to take her in. The relationship is strengthened on a sad event the two women share in common. And while Ginny remains guarded throughout, Water, in her own journey at second chances, helps Ginny in getting back some of her own happiness.
In the present, Jesse struggles on how to handle Water’s amnesia. He doesn’t want to bring up the awful memories of her past, but he also can’t stay away. It is clear that he and Water have a connection for the ages. While Water’s memories remain at bay, the attraction and passion is still there.
The prologue is touched upon throughout the book, as Water begins experiencing nightmares, but with no faces to give her clues about the past.
While it may seem that the book may be disjointed with the two POVs and different time frames, I loved how the story was put together. The pace of the story is not rushed, and it’s not dull. There’s a slow building tension as you wait for the past and present to collide. Which eventually happens as the memories start to come back.
The author kept me hooked throughout and the story was told in such a unique way. How do you start over when you don’t remember the past? How do you make your second chance count? Water’s second chances was brought on by a horrific incident, but she fights tooth and nail for that second chance. And build a life she never knew she wanted all along.
Side note: If you were intrigued by Luke Boone, Jesse’s roommate and BFF, you are in luck. His story will be next.
*An ARC was receive from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
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This can’t be real . . . This can’t be real . . . This can’t be real . . .
The words cycle round and round in my mind like the wheels on my speeding ’Cuda as its ass-end slips and slides over the gravel and ice. This car is hard to handle on the best of days, built front-heavy and overloaded with horsepower. I’m going to put myself into one of these damn trees if I don’t slow down.
I jam my foot against the gas pedal.
I can’t slow down now.
Not until I know that Boone was wrong about what he claims to have overheard. His Russian is mediocre at best. I’ll giveanything for him to be wrong about this.
My gut clenches as my car skids around another turn,the cone shape of Black Butte looming like a monstrous shadow ahead of me in the pre-dawn light. The snowy tire tracks framed by my headlights might not even be the right ones, but they’re wide like Viktor’s Hummer and they’re sure as hell the only ones down this old, deserted logging road. No one comes out here in January.
The line of trees marking the dead end comes up on me before I expect it. I slam on my brakes, sending my car sliding sideways toward the old totem pole. It’s still sliding when I cut the rumbling engine, throw open the door, and jump out, fumbling with my flashlight. It takes three hard presses with my shaking hands to get the light to hold.
I begin searching the ground. The mess of tread marks tells me that someone pulled a U-turn. The footprints tell me that more than one person got out. And when I see the half-finished cigarette butt with that weird alphabet on the filter, I know Boone wasn’t wrong.
“Alex!” My echo answers once . . . twice . . . before the vast wilderness swallows up my desperate cry. With frantic passes of my flashlight, my knuckles white against its body, I search the area until I spot the sets of footprints that lead off the old, narrow road and into the trees.
Frigid fingers curl around my heart.
Darting back to my car, I snatch the old red-and-blue plaid wool blanket that she loves so much from the backseat. Ice-cold snow packs into the sides of my sneakers as I chase the trail past the line of trees and into the barren field ahead, my blood rushing through my ears the only sound I process.
The only sign of life.
Raw fear numbs my senses, the Pacific Northwest winter numbs my body, but I push forward because if . . .
The beam of light passes over a still form lying facedown in the snow. I’d recognize that pink coat and platinum-blond hair of hers anywhere; the sparkly blue dress that she hates so much looks like a heap of sapphires against a white canvas.
My heart freezes.
“Alex.” It’s barely a whisper. I’m unable to produce more, my lungs giving up on me. I run, stumbling through the foot of snow until I’m on my knees and crawling forward to close the distance. A distance of no more than ten feet and yet one that seems like miles.
There’s no mistaking the spray of crimson freckling the snow around her head. Or that most of her long hair is now dark and matted. Or that her silver stockings are torn and stained red, and a pool of blood has formed where her dress barely covers her thighs. Plenty of footprints mark the ground around her. He must have been here for a while.
I know that there are rules to follow, steps to make sure that I don’t cause her further harm. But I ignore them because the sinking feeling in my stomach tells me I can’t possibly hurt her more than he already has. I nestle her head with one hand while I slide the other under her shoulder. I roll her over.
Cold shock knocks the wind out of me.
I’ve never seen anybody look like this.
I scoop her limp body into my arms, cradling the once beautiful face that I’ve seen in every light—rage to ecstasy and the full gamut in between—yet is now unrecognizable. Placing two blood-coated fingers over her throat, I wait. Nothing.
A light pinch against her lifeless wrist.Nothing.
Maybe a pulse does exist but it’s hidden, masked by my own racing one.
Then again, by the look of her, likely not.
One . . . two . . . three . . . plump, serene snowflakes begin floating down from the unseen sky above. Soon, they will converge and cover the tracks, the blood. The evidence.Mother Nature’s own blanket to hide the unsightly blemish in her yard.
“I’m so sorry.” I don’t try to restrain the hot tears as they roll down my cheeks to land on her mangled lips—lips I had stolen plenty of kisses from, back when I was too stupid to realize how dangerous that really was. This is my fault. She had warned me. If I had just listened, had stayed away from her, had not told her how I felt . . .
. . . had not fallen wildly in love with her.
I lean down to steal a kiss even now, the coppery taste of her blood mixing with my salty tears. “I’m so damn sorry. I should never have even looked your way,” I manage to get out around my sobs, tucking the blanket she loved to curl up in over her.
An almost inaudible gasp slips out. A slight breeze against my mouth more than anything else.
My lungs freeze, my eyes glued to her, afraid to hope. “Alex?” Is it possible?
A moment later, a second gasp—a wet, rattling sound—escapes.
She’s not dead.
Not yet, anyway.
Born in small-town Ontario, K.A. Tucker published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She is a voracious reader, and currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.