Book Title: Any Given Lifetime by Leta Blake
Published: September 13, 2018
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
He’ll love him in any lifetime.
Neil isn’t a ghost, but he feels like one. Reincarnated with all his memories from his prior life, he spent twenty years trapped in a child’s body, wanting nothing more than to grow up and reclaim the love of his life.
As an adult, Neil finds there’s more than lost time separating them. Joshua has built a beautiful life since Neil’s death, and how exactly is Neil supposed to introduce himself? As Joshua’s long-dead lover in a new body? Heartbroken and hopeless, Neil takes refuge in his work, developing microscopic robots called nanites that can produce medical miracles.
When Joshua meets a young scientist working on a medical project, his soul senses something his rational mind can’t believe. Has Neil truly come back to him after twenty years? And if the impossible is real, can they be together at long last?
Any Given Lifetime is a stand-alone, slow burn, second chance gay romance by Leta Blake featuring reincarnation and true love. This story includes some angst, some steam, an age gap, and, of course, a happy ending.
When you couldn’t sleep at night and tried to read something to help you fall asleep, then you end up not sleeping at all…
Any Given Lifetime is probably my first Western rebirth story. The previous rebirth stories I’ve read are mostly Chinese web novels where the protagonist restarts their life with the knowledge of their previous life. Unlike those stories, Neil is reborn into a different family while retaining memories of his former life. Meanwhile, his lover, Joshua, continues on with his life.
To be honest, I wanted to stop reading this book after the first few chapters. It has all the red flags — multiple POVs (not limited to the MCs), relationship with other characters, continuous time jump.
Okay, let’s start with multiple POVs. It’s obvious that Joshua and Neil have their chapters. But Neil’s mother? I don’t about you, but it feels weird to have her tell the story.
Second, the relationship with others. It’s not entirely a bad thing if it’s just nameless one-night stands. But no. Leta Blake writes endearing secondary characters which makes me care for them. They’re not just another warm body for the main characters. These are people whom they care about and who love them back. They are Neil and Joshua’s support systems. How can I root for the MCs when the feelings of these side characters feel truer than the main couple?
Yes, there’s this sizzling chemistry between Neil and Joshua, but how am I going to feel the connection when I didn’t even witness this great love they speak of? I was told by two flashback scenes of how smitten they were with each other. That’s not enough for me to build a solid connection with them. It feels like I got dropped in the middle of an already amazing love story. Maybe if I’ve somehow read about Joshua and Neil together first, established a relationship with them then maybe I’d feel a lot more affected.
Third, the time jumps. The story is in the past, present, and the future. There are flashbacks of Neil and Joshua’s meetings, then we’ll get glimpses of what happens to them after Neil died. It’s like being moved forward and then back, then forward again. Thankfully, once everything settles down, this jumping thing stops.
The writing is great, no doubt about that. However, the execution doesn’t click with me. What about the characters? The main characters are… okay. Between the two of them, Neil seems to be the one who needs this reincarnation thing the most. He’s the snarky jerk most of the time, but we get to see him care about the people around him. This new life injects some sense of humanity in him that he sorely needs.
The side characters are amazing, though! If there’s a spinoff or a sequel or whatever that features Alice (Neil’s mother), Derek (the roommate), and Lee (the, uh, special guy), I’d read it in a heartbeat. It’s funny how I cared about them more than the main couple. These characters are beautiful and kind souls yet scarred. But for them, life has to move on, and they never forget to continue loving life despite everything they’d gone through.
Part 3 of the book is something I was looking forward to — the reunion of the fated lovers. I might have shed a tear or two, but ultimately, it is a letdown. They struggle for, like, a couple of pages, then proceeded to have intense makeup sex when they should be talking and getting to know each other again. Twenty years is a long time, enough to make someone a different person from before. I know they waited for many years, but it’s still a little fast for me.
Any Given Lifetime is a good book, yet I still feel distant from the characters which are totally different from what I expected. Reading the comments at Goodreads, I feel like I read a different book than the rest of the readers. There are parts I liked and other parts I didn’t like. If there’s any advice I would give to Me before starting this book, it’s don’t expect a romance story. It’s a love story that encompasses all kinds of love, not just the romantic kind. It is also about dealing with grief, of friendship, and of moving on.