A complex love triangle develops between a headstrong young doctor and the two men in her life in this latest novel from Brae (Insipid, 2014).
Twenty-something physician Anna Dillon decides to escape the turmoil of her life in New York City by volunteering at a medical clinic in a small village in Thailand. Along for the ride is Dante Leola, her “friend and partner-in-crime,” who’s agreed to accompany her and with whom she shares an easy camaraderie. On a beach one night, Anna meets teacher’s assistant Jude Grayson and feels an instant attraction. The novel follows these three characters as their relationship moves from a conventional love triangle to something more multilayered as the book’s action shifts from Thailand back to New York and over several years. Anna eventually marries Dante, and the pace of her professional life increases dramatically. Overall, her life seems settled—but she can’t seem to make herself forget Jude. That buried ambivalence comes to the surface when Jude suddenly reappears in her new life (“the black clouds of Thailand had followed me home,” Anna muses). Brae has a penchant for the purple prose of standard romance fiction; for instance, Dante’s “thin, pouty lips were in perfect harmony with that sexy five o’clock shadow,” and Jude is described as “Adonis personified—piercing dark eyes outlined with a kaleidoscope of colors swirling with secrets.” The somewhat shallow, melodramatic characterizations of the principal players (Dante the steadfast, Anna the manic, Jude the chaos-agent) are mostly redeemed by Brae’s plot complications after her trio is safely relocated to New York. She convincingly dramatizes Anna’s inner torment over her attraction to Jude, and the book’s Christian elements are integrated smoothly enough into the characters’ natures to avoid snagging the narrative. Overall, this is a relationship novel with a good deal of potboiling energy as well as a good deal of heart.
A multifaceted, pleasingly unpredictable story of shifting passions between three friends.