Well, sort of. Actually, it’s a selfie of me with his new novel, Occasional Soulmates! And since it’s a selfie, the title is backwards. What did you expect from me? Perfection? I’m rusty, folks.
Back to Kevin’s new novel: I just received my paperback copy this weekend, and it’s gorgeous! I love the cover and the graphic at the head of each chapter. I read the ebook version of Occasional Soulmates and you can read my traditional review here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2LYS27S2XMN8B/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00NKO0B2A&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=133140011&store=digital-textj. What? You don’t want to move from my awesome blog to read the review? Okay, here it is for your convenience (geez), but, mind you, I’ve got a different kind of review cooking up in my head:Kevin Brennan’s latest novel, Occasional Soulmates, is a humorous and sometimes tragic adult coming of age novel. Written in the first person, the protagonist, 38-year-old doctor Sarah Phelan, is obsessed with finishing the “relationship novel” of her life: finding Mr. Right (or Mr. Anybody Who Will Love Me Enough To Marry Me) and settling down. Sarah has been married once before but she would argue the failure of that marriage was not her fault. Yes, she says, she’s a doctor, but she’s not “cocky,” she’s not hard to get along with: “These men ought to just relax. I’m not going to castrate them.” Sarah doesn’t have a clue. She’s “too quirky,” according to her best friend Jules (whose relationship novel, by the way, came out before Sarah’s). For one thing, Sarah uses a Land of the Giants lunchbox as a purse, and she keeps “two pillows on the bed” just in case her relationship shows up unexpectedly.Enter Dylan Cakebread, a thirty-something British architect who bares an uncanny resemblance to Jude Law. Their meeting, in Sarah’s exam room because Dylan is quite ill at the time, is the stuff of relationship novels: A chance and awkward meeting where both seem to feel the ignition of attraction. But Sarah will not leave anything to chance and, in effect, she pursues Dylan, crating opportunities for them to “accidentally” cross paths.Dylan is attracted to Sarah, and they soon embark on a heady relationship, full of good food and lots of great sex. But Dylan is a mysterious man, and it’s not long before Sarah realizes that he is also not always truthful. When she eventually learns what he is keeping from her, she refuses to give him up, believing her unconditional love for him should result in everlasting happiness.The reader quickly comes to care about Sarah because she is a caring individual. That’s why she’s a doctor. She wants to help even when the object of her aid, for example, her bitter, older sister Ella, seems to have nothing but jealousy and disdain for her. The disdain is mutual, but Sarah is at heart someone who wants to make things right. The problem is she doesn’t always do the right thing to make things right. She tries to follow the outline of her relationship novel, not realizing that other people, such as Dylan, might have their own relationship novel, one with a different outline. She doesn’t realize until very late that she may only be a secondary character in his relationship novel.
As with Mr. Brennan’s previous novels–Parts Unknown and Yesterday Road–this novel has many layers which slowly peel away in the reader’s mind after long it is finished. On the one hand, this novel is a page-turner. The reader wants to know (has to know) what Dylan is hiding and then whether Sarah can reconcile his secrets with her own desire for a life with him. On the other hand, the ending, which seems like a surprise but really isn’t once you think about it, sets the reader on a mission to find all the clues, hints, and asides that pointed to this conclusion. Days after finishing this novel, I was still musing about the twists and turns of Sarah and Dylan’s relationship, still having “Aha!” moments when I peeled back another layer and saw even more clearly the disaster ahead.
One of the (many) things I love about Mr. Brennan’s stories is that every character he develops has humanity. They are not one- or two-dimensional characters that you can consume like so many M&Ms. Even Ella, the bitter older sister, is someone who eventually tugs at the reader’s heart. Everyone has a story, and no one is undeserving of the reader’s sympathy.
Occasional Soulmates has Mr. Brennan’s notable humor, a sympathetic wit that runs deep like a humming submarine. It is this humor and Mr. Brennan’s spot-on assessment of humanity that makes his novels stand out. His characters get under your skin and into your heart. His stories make you rethink your own. I highly recommend this novel. If you want a fast-paced relationship novel, you won’t be disappointed. Occasional Soulmates would be a good airport read. If you want something deeper, a novel that will make you reflect on relationships in general, how our wants get in the way of our needs, then look no further than Occasional Soulmates. The story, the writing, will stay with you long after you get off the plane.
Now, back to my blog:
As I often (i.e., ad naseaum) say, ebooks are great for convenience, but nothing compares to the beauty and warmth of a printed book. This is a must-read novel, a must-read in paperback form. But why choose? With Amazon, you can get both the paperback and ebook version at a discount. I bought the paperback and got the ebook for free.
So waste no time and head over to Amazon and BUY THIS BOOK!