Verdict: Filled with historical flashbacks that keep the story engrossing; LOVES OF OUR LIVES is a well-orchestrated tale of star-crossed lovers through the ages.
A woman sets out on a journey of past life regression therapy to cope with the loss of a friend in this touching historical fiction romance. Traveling back in time via hypnosis she visits her soul’s prior incarnations in 18th century England and the Civil War-era United States, uncovering a staggering revelation about her present life.
In the historical settings, Katie Benjamin finds both of her alter egos struggling against outside expectations to unite with their true loves. In England, as Elinor Davenport, she prefers the charming rector to her father’s business partner, a boorish Mr. Edwards who thinks education compromises a woman’s “delicate constitution.” In America, as Catherine Buchanan, she is a nurse in the North devoted to a wounded black soldier, a love that society (and her father) will not sanction. Meanwhile, in the present, Katie begins to question the happiness of her marriage when she meets John Manning, a kind and sensitive widower.
Chenier excels at capturing historically appropriate details and dialogue and these sections shine as a result. Elinor Davenport and Catherine Buchanan are both confident, resolute women rebelling against cultural norms. This has the unfortunate consequence of drawing more attention to present tense Katie’s inability to see what’s right in front of her, a somewhat frustrating experience for the reader. Her husband Ward is almost comically awful – an unsupportive blatant misogynist. When Katie gets a promotion at work that will require traveling he proclaims that he does not want his wife “gallivanting about the country like some working whore.” It’s pretty obvious where the story is going once she meets John, Ward’s polar opposite in every way imaginable. The past lives hypnotherapy is a clever device, however, and Chenier employs it well, guiding Katie to the fulfillment of her soul’s destiny.
Filled with historical flashbacks that keep the story engrossing; LOVES OF OUR LIVES is a well-orchestrated tale of star-crossed lovers through the ages.