Published by Berkley on May 3, 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
From the USA Today bestselling author of This Gun for Hire and one of today's “premier western romance writers,”* a captivating new Western historical romance . . . WHAT HE DOESN’T KNOW . . . After a horse drags him through the countryside, Israel McKenna awakes bruised and battered in a field in Pancake Valley, Colorado. He can recall where he came from and where he was going, but the memory of how he came to be on the Pancake homestead eludes him. He’s certain he did something wrong to deserve such a harsh punishment—and so is the beautiful woman who reluctantly comes to his aid. . . . COULD HURT HER. Wilhelmina “Willa” Pancake must focus on running her family’s ranch. With Israel’s hazy memory, she is unsure if she can trust him, let alone handle the budding attraction between them. And as men fight to steal her land and the truth about Israel’s past rides toward them, love is a risk she cannot easily take.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Annalea Pancake was on a stroll with her dog when she happens upon a man who looks barely alive and rushes to the family ranch to fetch her sister Willa. Israel McKenna remembers his name, where he’s from and where he was going, but not how he ended up battered and bloodied on a Colorado country road.
I thought THE DEVIL YOU KNOW had a great premise, I cannot resist an amnesia trope, but it turns out it was not a book for me, it’s not a type of storytelling I’m comfortable with. My main issue was with the excruciatingly slow pace. When you add the overabundance of superfluous details – one example is pages dedicated to demonstrate why Israel needs spectacles – it didn’t help to make the story move more quickly. The flimsy plot is buried under a mountain of unimportant details and repetitions, yet the majesty of the Colorado landscape never came through. The main protagonists, Israel and Willa, lacked definition, and what chemistry there was between them manifested itself in the second half of the book; before, we had been told they were attracted to each other, which was far from obvious. I found it bizarre that no one showed the slightest interest in filling in the blanks of Israel’s faulty memory, even though he had admitted to being a “bad man”. It was also the reason why an unexpected – to me – plot twist baffled me. However, it was not as stupefying as when Israel blurts out a part of his past which required a lot of explaining. We never knew when or how he remembered; I even suspected he was not entirely truthful on the matter. But Willa figured she should not pry, he would tell them everything when it suited him. I know this was the Old West, but it was not a peccadillo, and I would have grilled him to know the whole truth. I was so numbed by the sluggish pace and the avalanche of superfluous information that an explosive revelation only temporarily stunned me when it ought to have provoked a much stronger reaction on my part.
My favourite characters were by far ten-year-old Annalea and the Pancake patriarch, whose nickname is Happy. Happy Pancake. Yes, well. But it’s always a question of taste, and since the writing is fine, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW might prove a fitting beach read for you.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.