There are romance novels that challenge preconceptions of the genre by tackling complex social or historical issues or building love stories around imperfect, unlikeable women. And then there is Pregnesia, a 2009 romance about a pregnant woman with amnesia. My Google searches have not turned up a medical condition actually called “pregnesia,” so this is a rare case of a romance novel title telling you exactly what the story is about. And if you’re not already sold, I don’t even know why you’re reading this review.
Type: Cheesy, soapy, romantic suspense that would be completely at home in a 90s TV movie-of-the-week.
The couple: Lucas Washington is a former Navy SEAL who is adamantly opposed to dealing with issues related to childhood abuse. He’s just hanging out, living life, being sullen, and repossessing fancy planes and yachts and whatnot with his friends, who are also former Navy SEALs. He definitely can’t ever be a husband or father, so don’t even ask him about it. Unfortunately, he stumbles across Jane Doe – not her real name, BTW – who is pregnant and has amnesia. She is also very scared because she has a head injury and has been running away from some kind of danger she can’t remember. Since “terrified pregnant woman with no memories” is not on Lucas’s carefully curated list of the kinds people he can’t get involved with, he has no choice but to begrudgingly help her.
The story: Lucas goes out late one night to repossess a car for a friend (as one does). But when he gets in to the car to drive it away, he finds that there is a very pregnant woman with a head injury and no memory in the back seat. They decide together that the best thing for “Jane” is for her to go back to Lucas’s building and get treated by his sister, who is a nurse. I know what you’re thinking: “Why doesn’t he take her to the hospital? Taking her back to his place sounds like something a serial killer would do.” Don’t worry: Jane has a good feeling about Lucas, and for some reason the fact that she is 8-months pregnant with a head injury and no idea who she’s running from doesn’t make her question those instincts. Lucas, broody repo man that he is, is less easily convinced about Jane. But Navy SEALs have a lifelong obligation to assist petite, helpless women, so he agrees to make some calls.
How’s the sex? Bad news, boys and girls: there’s no sex in this book. Well, not by any adult definition. Jane is worried about going into orgasm-induced labor, so in an act of benevolence that almost never happens in romance novels, she gives Lucas a hand job with no reciprocation. Lucas – in another unusual romance act – tells her immediately afterward that it was stupid for her to get him off. And then they go to sleep. So maybe don’t read this book for the sex. Or for the likability of the hero.
Is this book for you? You don’t name your book “Pregnesia” if you don’t plan to really lean in to the romance novel tropes. Author Carla Cassidy is doing just that. She’s got everything from the doe-eyed heroine to the damaged hero to the dangerous cult. Did I not mention there is a cult? Because holy damn, there is definitely a cult.
That said, for a stereotypical romance novel hero, Lucas is not great. He makes every decision based on how it will impact him and his feelings. He’d love to abandon Jane at a hotel with some money, but he doesn’t want to deal with the guilt he’d feel as a result. He is shocked to discover that he can find a pregnant woman attractive. I get that he’s still dealing with childhood abuse and possibly post-traumatic stress related to his military service, but someone keeps trying to kidnap a pregnant amnesiac. Maybe put your problems on the back burner for a few days, asshole.
Conclusion: Pregnesia is almost definitely not going to open your eyes to any of the interesting or subversive things romance writers are doing today, but it’s completely nuts in a pretty entertaining way. If nothing else, it’s an important reminder to all pregnant women to keep the number of a surly Navy SEAL on her person at all times. You know, just in case.