(4.5 rounded up to a 5)
Twice in a Lifetime by Melissa Baron is a solid debut speculative romance featuring time shenanigans. I listened to the audiobook, which clocks in at around ten hours and is narrated by Megan Tusing.
To help ease her chronic anxiety, Isla moves from Chicago to a small town in Missouri. After buying a cottage about an hour outside of St. Louis, she receives a text from a man claiming to be her husband, complete with a photo of them on their wedding day. Ewan seems to be a few years into the future, when the two of them are no longer together. His reason for reaching out? To help save Isla from a fate he is unwilling to explain.
I didn’t actually realize this was a debut until I read the synopsis again post-reading the book. I picked it up because I love my romance/women’s fiction with a dash of speculative fiction. Highly recommend going into this book as blind as possible.
This is not light and fluffy, though we do get some really lovely moments. Our main character Isla is living with some heavy mental health issues–like chronic anxiety and panic attacks–as well as grieving for her mother who recently died of cancer. As a person with chronic anxiety issues, I do applaud the author for painting such a true-to-life depiction. I teared up a few times while listening to this book.
I loved the author’s choice to use Ewan as a point-of-view character throughout the middle of the book. I do wish that he had some downsides, though. He’s 100% cinnamon roll and doesn’t seem to have any flaws, which detracts from the believability.
There’s a twist about two-thirds of the way through that made me distressed. But I think the author did a great job with the ending for the book. The main themes here are the enduring quality of love across space and time, and how we are all guided by our griefs, our hopes, and the choices we have to make.
I liked this book a lot more than I liked Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, but I think there will be crossover fans here.
Tropes in this book include: time travel, epistolary, cinnamon roll hero
CW: chronic anxiety, panic attacks, grief, depression, death of parent, suicide, suicidal ideation, TBI, parental verbal abuse, bullying, gaslighting
I received a, audio copy of this book to review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
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