An absolutely riveting romance with a truly compelling storyline. “Muscle Memory” is more than just a romance it’s straight up good storytelling by Stylo Fantôme. The Hero, Jaysen/Jon has a “Before” storyline and his Present time story. Jay’s (Jon) past is absolutely glorious in its checkered romance with the love of his life Delany. Jon’s present is peppered with the fabulous Mrs. Sloan (Sloany) and “fixer” Kitty. He’s suffering from severe amnesia and remembers practically nothing before waking in the hospital. Stylo Fantôme does a stellar job in portraying Jon’s confusion between who he is and who he wants to be. Add to that the Whys and Whos behind his decisions and he’s absolutely intriguing. Delany’s the girl from his beautifully ugly past who was his everything and now he doesn’t remember her at all. She’s an engaging Heroine you admire and pity. Delany’s a spitfire who’s all heart.
John Doe wakes up in a hospital two weeks after falling off a subway platform and cracking his skull. He remembers nothing of his former life but knows things like he can speak a little Spanish and he’s left-handed. Jon was told he was a drug addict and luckily he was unconscious through the detox. His story was in the news but no one has comes for him. So he has no memories, no family or friends, and no identification. He can’t get a job without ID. So Jon must move into a half-way house with ex-cons and work as a volunteer until something happens. All he has is the social worker who’s bonded with him. Mrs. Sloan, or Sloany as he calls her, is his best friend, advisor, and only hope of survival.
Sloany gets him work at a food kitchen where Jon meets Kitty. Kitty is beautiful, from a wealthy family, and wants to “fix” him. A relationship blossoms between them but even though they are perfect in theory Jon knows something is missing between them. For one thing what feelings he has about what he liked sexually is NOT what Kitty likes. So he pushes that side of himself away. There are other things he “remembers” that aren’t acceptable to her. But he doesn’t understand why she can’t just be happy he’s actually remembered. Sloany’s his voice of reason and even though he remembers he had a disgusting habit she’s happy for his memory. Sloany isn’t a fan of Kitty’s. However, it’s through Kitty that Jon finds Delany.
Jon happens to run into Delany at a restaurant while out with Kitty’s friends. Delany knows exactly who he is when she sees him. For Jon. he doesn’t remember but he has such strong emotions that he passes out. When he comes to Delany’s he still has absolutely no recollection of her. However she becomes part of his “second life” as his memories. Because he remembers nothing from his past the stories she tells him about their life shocks him. Ever since he woke up he’s a clean-cut rule follower. In his past life as Jaysen he wore dreadlocks, did drugs, couldn’t hold a job, and they were homeless. To Jon the stories make it sound as though they were toxic for each other. That they would have been better off if they didn’t stay together. But Delany tells him they were happier than anyone could imagine with absolutely nothing.
The passages of Jon’s Before as Jaysen are marvelous. They’re fun, romantic, frustrating, beautiful and tragic. They show that even though Jon is completely different than Jay they are still very much the same.
“Muscle Memory is magic, tragic, and simply amazing. Stylo Fantôme writes her heart out in this book coming up with a sordidly beautiful romance beyond compare. The characters are perfect in their roles: Noble, Self-Serving, Guiding, and Lost. There’s an instance of cheating however it’s a “heat of the moment” incident and proper guilt and remorse is shown. I adore this book.
I’m giving “Muscle Memory” 5 Lightning Bolts and a Storm Warning.
This novel was provided, voluntarily read, and honestly reviewed.