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Intense soulmates of the distant past come together again across the centuries in new lives, not as time travelers, but as people who died and were reborn in a different time and place.
This theme has a deeper, more far-reaching objective than just presenting the idea of multiple lives; it seeks to enhance awareness of the purpose of life on earth—unconquerable love.
A selfless slave who lived in ancient Egypt, murdered for sharing forbidden love with a pharaoh's son, meets him in modern New York; a man is blinded on his wedding day—and then is healed by his beloved—because as a sheriff of the Old West, he was prevented from marrying his fiancé by a bullet; lovers quarrel in the Middle Ages, then suffer a permanent separation their souls cannot accept and meet repeatedly over time; a young couple falls in love at first sight because they were lovers in nineteenth-century London who vowed to love forever… These storylines involving lovers of one era rediscovering each other in the present are countless and endlessly creative.
In real life, blindly meeting someone, being attracted to them and then falling in love is heavenly. It's being changed by that love that emotionally parallels most reincarnation belief systems. What is it about this person that binds us irrevocably to them? Often times, facets of our loved one's personality reminds us of someone we know or once knew, whether in this life or another.
Reincarnation in a romance novel brings together ancient times with contemporary life and usually involves a process of healing past trauma for the hero or heroine. This theme interweaves aspects of science, religion, history, philosophy and psychology, encouraging us to use the creative side of our brains as well as the more logical, pragmatic side we tend to save for our jobs and our families.
Although reincarnation offers aspects of the spiritual and the paranormal, and often explores the experience of dying, the main focus of reincarnation in romance novels is the possibility that the people in our lives that really matter just may have stuck by us for centuries. More importantly, it shows that the barriers of life and death will always fall before the power of love.
"Most of us have fallen in love with someone across time, be it with a legend like Sir Lancelot, fairytale's Beast or someone historical like Mel Gibson's William Wallace in "Braveheart." The possibility that time and death hold no power to stop love, that no love is impossible, that is one of the most romantic of all fantasies." Kimberly Cates favorite reincarnation romance is A Knight In Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux.
"Reincarnation is the ultimate expression of the rebirth fantasy. What woman doesn't want to believe in a love so powerful it transcends life itself?" For this theme, Kristin Hannah has a favorite movie: the 1978 "Heaven Can Wait," directed by and featuring Warren Beatty, and also starring Julie Christie.
"Love that transcends even death is a powerful theme because it echoes mankind's inherent belief that our innermost selves are immortal. Every Spring, we celebrate life triumphing over death as the snow melts away. And since life and love are one and the same, this a theme that is timeless and even spiritual. It proves to us that death is merely an illusion." Maggie Shayne recommends Break The Night by Anne Stuart.
Reunion, personal growth and transformation, immortality—and especially eternal, unshakable love are the elements found in romance novels with a reincarnation theme. Ultimately, reincarnation novels reveal a love so intense and whole and real that absolutely nothing, not even death, can win. Love crosses all boundaries—including time and space.
(Note: The list below was compiled at press time: Romantic Times Issue #201, November 2000)
- PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM Victoria Alexander (Leisure)
- CATRIONA Jeanette Baker (Pocket)
- MAYBE THIS TIME Victoria Barrett (Zebra)
- TIME AFTER TIME Marilynn Byerly (Hardshell Word Factory)
- FOREVER AND A DAY Victoria Chancellor (Leisure)
- COPPER MOON Roxanne Conrad (Onyx)
- LOVE POTION #9 Claire Cross (Jove)
- ONCE UPON A KISS Claire Cross (Jove)
- A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR Jude Deveraux (Pocket)
- LEGEND Jude Deveraux (Pocket)
- REMEMBRANCE Jude Deveraux (Pocket)
- FLAMES OF RAPTURE Lark Eden (Love Spell)
- THE STARRY CHILD Lynn Hanna (Onyx)
- LAKE OF DREAMS Linda Howard (Pocket)
- ANGEL HOURS Jan Hudson (Pinnacle)
- DREAM OF ME Jan Hudson (Pinnacle)
- REMEMBER MY HEART Janis Reams Hudson (Pinnacle)
- A CASE OF NERVES Angie Kay (Love Spell)
- MARIANA Susanna Kearsley (Bantam)
- THE BECKONING GHOST Catherine Kohman (Love Spell)
- DREAMS: PART ONE & TWO Jayne Ann Krentz (Harlequin)
- THERE NEVER WAS A TIME Gail Link (Love Spell)
- FERNEY James Long (Bantam)
- THE DREAM Kat Martin (Kensington)
- DREAMCATCHER Dinah McCall (Harper)
- THE COVENANT Modean Moon (Harper)
- MAIDEN VOYAGE Judith O'Brien (Pocket)
- TAKE MY BREATH AWAY Meg O'Brien (St. Martin's)
- THE HORSEMAN Kristina O'Donnelly (Hollis Books)
- TWICE UPON A TIME Emilie Richards (Avon)
- ONCE MORE WITH FEELING Emilie Richards (Avon)
- FOREVER AND A DAY Connie Rinehold (Dell)
- BORN IN SHAME Nora Roberts (Jove)
- ETERNITY Maggie Shayne (Jove)
- NOW AND FOREVER Elizabeth Sherwood (Pinnacle)
- BRIDE OF THE MIST Christina Skye (Avon)
- BRIDGE OF DREAMS Christina Skye (Avon)
- BREAK THE NIGHT Anne Stuart (Pinnacle)
- MAGIC Kimberly Cates (Pocket)
- ONCE IN EVERY LIFE Krtistin Hannah (Gold Medal)
- ENSLAVED Virginia Henley (Island/Dell)
- GREEN DARKNESS Anya Seton (Fawcett)