After the tragic death of her husband and problems in her career as a historian, Lia Carrer goes home to Languedoc in the South of France to heal. However, it isn't long before Lia's best friend is trying to set her up with the lonely and kind widower from a nearby vineyard and a local photographer is persuading her to help him with a book about Languedoc.
In the meantime, Lia's real passion is finding supporting evidence for her theory that in 1208 the Archdeacon Castelnau was assassinated as an excuse to start the crusade against the heretical Cathers. As Lia's researches the events from hundreds of years ago, she begins to discover that the three men in her life: the widower, the photographer and the priest all have their own secrets and know much more than they're telling.
Among other ideas that the Catholic church did not condone, the Cathers believed in reincarnation. Playing on this element of their faith, Julie Christine Johnson spins a tail of murder, intrigue and romance in In Another Life. Reminding me of last year's The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack, the idea that someone can live another life is a fun idea to explore in fiction. Johnson does it relatively well in her debut novel.
It took several chapters for me to fall into an easy reading grove. I had to go back and reread several sections because the back and forth between present and past was initially confusing. However, it begins to make more sense and I was finally able to keep characters straight and plot lines from tangling. Honestly, the entire book is a tangled web of past lives and loves.
As with any fantasy novel, one must suspend reality. I don't read in this genre very often and I prefer believable explanations even for the unbelievable. Make me want to believe. In Another Life had trouble pulling it all together in the end. I was completely entertained and caught up in the story but there were some holes in her reincarnation explanations.
I was definitely most interested in the historical aspect of the Cathers and the intrigue that may have led to their demise. Presenting a fascinating theory, Johnson only skims the surface of that history and left me wanting more.
In Another Life is fun and ambitious and I liked it much more than I expected in the first few chapters. It is mystical and intriguing and captivating.
In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson is published by Sourcebooks Landmark and released on February 2, 2016.
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**I received a complimentary copy of In Another Life. All opinions are my own. No compensation was received.**