Zebra, Apr 2002, 6.50, 384 pp.
Two decades ago in Sumarville, Mississippi, Jolie Royale barely escaped with her life, but her mother, aunt and the gardener were left dead. Though officially ruled a murder-suicide, as the gardener was allegedly her aunt's lover, Jolie knows better. Though she saw the face of the killer she cannot identify the person because she cannot recall what she actually seen.
Now her stepbrother Max Devereaux asks Jolie to return to her family's plantation, Belle Rose, for her father's funeral. Jolie would prefer to stay away from her hometown, not just because of the bad memories but also because she loves Max who hates the Royales. However, there are some folks who prefer that Jolie not come back including her stepsister. Amongst that crowd exists an individual who fears that the plantation may trigger memories so Jolie might recall a certain visage. That individual targets her as the next victim with only Max to protect her.
Though amnesia has been used a quadrillion times as a plot device, Beverly Barton provides a fresh tale due to a sizzling romance starring two engaging protagonists. The story line keeps the tension high, as the audience never knows who the culprit is until the tale is completed. Though the subplot involving the stepsister adds little depth except as a symbol of local antagonism to Jolie's return, readers will know that WHAT SHE DOESN'T KNOW is a strong romantic suspense.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner