A woman awakes knee-deep in the frigid San Francisco Bay, clueless as to how she got there—and who she is. So begins Lucie Walker’s second life in Jennie Shortridge’s heartfelt fifth novel, Love Water Memory, an appealing examination of the puzzle of identity and the enduring power of love.

A handsome, loving fiancĂ© comes to claim Lucie, and, nervous but willing, she returns to the Seattle home she doesn’t remember. Suffering from dissociative fugue, a rare amnesia sparked by trauma, Lucie investigates her former self and finds she doesn’t like it very much: She was controlling, insecure and obsessed with appearances. The new Lucie, ironically, is more at ease in her own skin—strange and alien as it is—than ever before, and she wonders how the unpretentious, sensitive Grady ever loved that woman. Yet he is unnerved by this relaxed new Lucie. It’s too bad, because she’s falling in love with him.

What follows is a series of missed cues as the pair, unsure of each other, stumble toward re-courtship, even as Lucie struggles to jar real memories of her past. But she turns up more than she bargained for, not only about the day she left, but also about her troubled childhood. It may prove more than her already shaky psyche can bear.

Shortridge’s love story is cozy and Lucie’s quest for truth keeps the pages turning, but what may be most compelling about this fast read is Lucie’s psychological rebirth. A clean slate personified, she gets the chance to see her faults, errors and shortcomings with neutral eyes, and then, free of the baggage that formed them, she acts to change them. Readers will wonder if they can do the same in their own lives. An engaging journey, Shortridge’s latest should please her fans and earn her new ones.

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