Normally the thought of reading a book about guardian angels and heaven that tries to make it all sound hip makes me throw up in my mouth a little. However, as I started reading Freudian Slip, I quickly began to realize that Erica Orloff was pulling off that rarest feat of all: She tells a story about love, redemption, strangely hip guardian angels, and souls trapped Neither Here Nor There that is truly touching rather than saccharine.
Julian Shaw is a successful shock jock in New York City. As a recovering heroin addict who likes to feature porn stars and lesbians having sex on the air as well as just being a general all-around bad boy, Julian is not exactly the typical romance novel hero or even someone most would welcome in polite company. In fact, we learn pretty quickly that Julian is incredibly self-absorbed, profane and desperately in need of reformation. In some ways, he made me think of the Regency rake brought into the 21st century.
As the novel opens, Julian is finishing his up his shift and, as he heads outside, he is shot by someone offended at his show. While in a coma, Julian finds himself trapped in a mysterious realm called Neither Here Nor There. His spirit guide, Gus, tells him that while he is in this state, he has been assigned by God to assist someone on Earth. And what's in it for Julian? Well, he may continue on his current downward slide or he may find redemption. Also, he may live - or he may not.
And Julian's task? He must help Kate Darby, a young woman who just walked in on her boyfriend and her best friend, then arrived home to find her apartment broken into and her dog missing. Not surprisingly, Kate is a wreck. Faced with Kate's despair, Julian is at first completely helpless - and not the most understanding either.
However, as Julian spends time with Kate, he finds himself less concerned with trying to find opportunities to see naked women and more interested in actually helping her. Even more surprising, he finds himself wanting Kate's company and feeling an emotional connection to her. Kate starts sensing Julian's presence and hearing his voice. Better yet, the advice Julian gives her helps her find some self-confidence, and sets her on the path away from doormat-dom.
And that's where things really start to get interesting. For much of the book, Julian is Neither Here Nor There. Yet the connection Julian and Kate build together feels very strong and the chemistry is there as well. The love story is a strongly emotional one, containing more than one moment that will leave readers teary-eyed. Orloff manages to strike a good balance between deep emotion and humor in the story, and this makes her characters very endearing. In addition, while the characters (especially Julian) undergo huge changes in the story, it comes off as believable. Julian is, quite frankly, every bit as surprised by his transformation as the reader is.
There are a few bobbles in the plot of Freudian Slip, including an external conflict that doesn't seem nearly as compelling as the main relationship. However, this book kept me flipping pages quite happily and I so greatly enjoyed the characters' world that I still found myself wanting to reread this book in spite of its minor flaws. And the ending is just perfect - I was walking around with a silly grin on my face for a long time afterwards.
-- Lynn Spencer
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