So this is the end of my relationship novel.
Due to its self-aware writing style, Occasional Soulmates might be called a metanovel. Immediately, this may turn off some readers, but for me, it’s one of the reasons I love Kevin Brennan. He’s an author that can take traditional tropes and make them interesting again.
Dr. Rachel Phelan is a single, thirtysomething looking to come out a winner in her own living “relationship novel.” She’s seeking a long-term commitment, only to find herself falling in love with a damaged man. That’s where the ride begins and through Brennan’s deft prose, holds reader interested until the final page.
I feel one of the best compliments I can give Occasional Soulmates is that not once did I see a man trying to write from a woman’s perspective. If I had not known that the author was male, I would have assumed the opposite. In fact, during parts of my reading, I would get so sucked into the story that a part of my brain was telling me that a woman had written this. Not that I’m a perfect judge, given my plumbing, but Rachel seemed to embody a lot of the natural strengths and passions that the women in my life appear to have. Dr. Rachel Phelan was not some overcompensating man-in-a-woman’s-body nor a hyperemotional ninny–she was a capable woman looking to fill a hole in her life.
For me, Brennan’s only misfire was an unsympathetic love interest. Dylan comes off selfish and brooding. Maybe that was the goal, and if so, bravo Mr. Brennan! Still, I left this novel with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth and couldn’t help but feel Rachel didn’t just do okay in the end–she dodged a walking piece of British C4.
Admittedly, I went into Occasional Soulmates with some loaded expectations. I’d read one of Brennan’s books before (the fantastic Yesterday Road) so I knew I’d be surprised and pleased. This wasn’t going to be the “traditional relationship novel” and I felt I could count on the author to give me something new and different. Suffice it to say, I was not let down and once again, I look forward to the author’s next work.
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