cover image You Only Love Twice

You Only Love Twice

Elizabeth Thornton. Bantam, $7.99 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-553-57426-5

Thornton (The Bride's Bodyguard) crams her latest Regency historical novel with every possible device: amnesia, murder, ESP, and not one romance, but two. The amnesiac novice Sister Martha has been in a convent for three years when she is finally recognized as Jessica Hayward. She's had suspicions about her past life, most vividly through her mysterious Voice, but on returning home she finds herself groping to understand an extremely complicated and possibly deadly past that includes jealousy, murder, and the steadfast love of Lucas Wilde, Lord Dundas. The narrative overcrowding, Jess's psychic deus ex machina, and an extremely sluggish climax all clot the book, although there are some high points--Jess's anxiety over the prospect of her own unremembered transgressions, as well as the secondary romance between Lucas's mother and an old flame. The biggest problem, though, is that Lucas fell in love with Jess before the book starts, which unfortunately deprives the reader of the satisfaction of the full evolution of love. (Feb.)