TWICE IN A LIFETIME

O'Day–Flannery crafts a novel with an intriguing premise, and she's not afraid to have her characters discuss deeply spiritual and philosophic issues. The large cast of secondary characters, however, is distracting; it's often difficult to keep track of the distinct personalities, particularly when the heroine is with her women's group. Frequent, whole-group conversations slow the novel's pace, but the subplot is interesting and directly impacts the main storyline.

Widowed therapist Isabel is about to turn 50 when her life takes a strange turn. An attractive younger man approaches her after a lecture, and she soon becomes both physically and emotionally involved with him. But Joshua is no ordinary hot guy. He's a "man" on a metaphysical mission, and Isabel is a big part of his earthly project.

Isabel comes to understand that Joshua, while appearing to her as a sexy, thirtysomething man, is the imaginary friend who first entered her life in early childhood. He's a kind of guardian angel, helping her help others who are troubled by autism and severe trauma. But, as Isabel grows more confident in her skills, she fears Joshua will feel he's no longer needed and leave her. She must decide if she's willing to let go of her attachment to normalcy, or if she can embrace the uncertainty that comes with having a paranormal being as her lover. (TOR, Dec., 304 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Marilyn Weigel