LTDBooks, $5.00, ISBN 1-55316-939-5
Paranormal Romance, 1998
What a fun thing it is when a book comes out of nowhere and socks it to me in the face. New Life Incognita is an unusual romance with a really unheard-of twist: the man dies and is reincarnated as a woman. Some readers can balk all they want, but me, I’m too busy having the time of my life to worry about such irrelevant things.
Kelly Butler isn’t a happy man. He is shot down in front of his girlfriend, and by his own best buddy – the latter having designs on said girlfriend! The outrage indeed. However, he is given a second chance in life by those whispering italicized whispers that always hide in the light at the end of the tunnel. Ergo, he awakes in a hospital…
… as Dagny Diaz, a woman. A white woman. Uh oh.
It gets worse. Her – let’s just stick to feminine pronouns from now on – hubby Tyler is mad at her for her affair with Edge Russell. Edge’s a really bad boy who has seen too many Godfather movies. Then Amire, Kelly/Diaz’s girlfriend from his previous life comes into the scene.
To make things even more complicated, Dagny turns out to be a junkie and her hubby’s a Narc officer. Oh boy. This is Kelly’s Quantum Leap quest – set things straight and he will get a happily-ever-after.
And oh boy, what fun it is to follow Kelly/Dagny to her happy-ever-after! Everything about New Life Incognita is just right. I adore Kelly/Dagny and Tyler who bicker, stumble, fight, and love all the way to the last page. Tyler is a nice man whom I think is way too patient for a woman like Dagny, but hey, he makes a charismatic goody-woody hero. In nice contrast is Edge, the loonybin who just can’t let Kelly/Dagny go. To be honest, I find him much more interesting than Tyler. I know, I know.
There’s also some element of Wiccanism, not that much to cause overdose or to distract me from the story. I really don’t know how to convey how much I love this book really. It’s simply yet wonderfully written, with a simple plot that manages to captivate my attention, and with simple characters, no one horribly tormented or anything, that manage to be larger than life. I keep reading until the end the first time around, then pause, and scroll up my screen all the way to the top for a second reread.
There is one quibble though, that almost jeopardizes the whole story. The whole Tyler-Dagny/Kelly relationship dynamics is straight romance, which I find somewhat implausible because Kelly/Dagny remembers being a man. How could she make love to Tyler so freely? Of course, this can be convincing if one address the whole homoeroticism of a woman who remembers being a man sleeping with a man (s)he finds attractive. But hey, this is a romance, and I know some readers (even authors) like the whole lines of sexuality set in black and white with no gray areas in between, so I shouldn’t quibble on that.
There’s no denying, however, that New Life Incognita has me hooked line and sinker. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I must admit I still have no idea why exactly – characters, interesting premise, the villain, everything? – but you know what? I’m off for a reread. Life’s too short of too much analyzing. It’s fun, and it’s all that matters at the end of the day.