Bronte O’Hara lives an unremarkable life in Edinburgh, working for the Caledonian Bank. Her world is thrown into confusion when she returns home to finds an injured and bleeding man in her kitchen. Marcus is suffering from memory loss, so she has no way of knowing whether he means her harm, or who attacked him. However, their paths are destined to cross again, and when they do, Bronte begins to realise that everything is tied into her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Eden, an anarchist who’s part of the anti-capitalism movement. With the G8 summit due to take place in Edinburgh, the city’s about to become a hotbed of not-so-peaceful protest, and as Bronte’s feelings for Marcus deepen, she’s left wondering who, if anyone, she can really trust.
Blank Space is one of those novels where it’s best to know as little about it as you can before you read it, so you can best enjoy the twists and turns as they arrive, though it’s not spoiling things too much to reveal that almost everyone in this book is hiding major secrets. Jennifer Young uses contemporary political and economic events as the backdrop for a fade-to-black romantic suspense storyline that explores questions of identity, trust, and moral principles. Bronte’s dilemma is simple and believable– given how badly her relationship with Eden ended, how can she love Marcus when she’s not entirely sure who he really is or what his true motives are? The “ooh, banks are evil” sentiment is occasionally ladled on a little too thickly, but it’s contrasted with some wry comments about those with anti-corporate sentiments who need people to work for banks and the like to give them something to protest against. Bronte is an appealingly feisty heroine, her budding attraction to Marcus is low-key but realistically handled, and there are moments of genuinely scary tension in a story will keep you gripped to the end. The book is billed as the first in a series, so it will be interesting to see whether Book Two develops Bronte and Marcus’ romance, or, as the previous Lake Garda series by Jennifer Young has done, introduces new characters to the set-up. Either way, it’s bound to be interesting.