Gregorio “Ori” Reyes and Kalani Lihilihi have known each other since childhood. Although they were always very close, Ori left home to serve in the Iraq war before either man had a chance to explore the strong feelings growing between them.
A vicious hate crime leaves Kalani’s body comatose in the hospital while his spirit wanders freely. Ori was dishonorably discharged from the military and served some time in prison. He returns to his home in Hawaii, disconsolate and penniless, blaming PTSD for his visions of Kalani.
These visions are very real, and for the first time, both men have a chance to overcome the pain of missed opportunities and regrets from the past.
Through flashbacks, the reader gets a glimpse of Ori’s and Kalani’s childhood and teen years, their family and friends, Ori’s stint in Iraq and his brief stay in prison, Kalani’s brutal assault, and the mystery of his parents’ deaths.
What starts out as a rather conventional love story, turns into something quite surprising and unexpected when Ori and Kalani embark on a journey through the spirit world, where dangers lurk, curses must be reversed, and lives are healed.
This is a very thoughtful and moving story that I personally feel could have benefitted from first-person dialogue. Many times I wanted to get into Ori’s head and know the depth of his feelings, but mostly I felt somewhat distant from the main characters until well into the novel. The flashbacks, while very effective and essential to the story, slowed the pace for me and made the story seem a lot longer than it actually was.
I loved the vividly described Hawaiian setting and culture and the emotionally-charged and beautifully written love scenes. This highly original non-traditional romance should appeal to adventurous readers.
Received this book for review at Outlaw Reviews