Seasons of Change by Carolyn LeVine Topol

Title: Seasons of Change
Author: Carolyn LeVine Topol
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel (227 pages)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

A guest review by Lily

Review Summary

The story of a man trying to deal with the loss of his lover and unexpectedly finding his second chance at love.


***This review may contain spoilers.***

BLURB

Andrew Klein is going through the motions of life. He was one half of a perfect couple, and then tragedy struck, leaving Andy alone and consumed by grief. While his friends rallied around him, Andy is estranged from his Orthodox Jewish family, who find his sexual orientation and desire to follow the tenets of the more modern Conservative sect of Judaism intolerable. Despite the loss, Andy continues in rabbinical school, and then he finds comfort in the company of Jake Singer.

With the encouragement of his dear friend Kira and the unselfish support of a wonderful mother figure, Andy begins to face his growing interest in Jake, and the two begin a tenuous relationship. It will cause a cascade of change in Andy’s life, change that will affect how he deals with the painful past, how he lives in the rocky present, and how he’ll plan for a brighter future.

REVIEW

Andy and Mitch have been together for four years and are blissfully happy. As Andy prepares to enter his last year of study before becoming a Rabbi he finally makes the decision to move in with Mitch. Despite the fact that his parents disapprove of his choice to be a Conservative Jew things between them are alright until he comes out to them. Unwilling to accept a gay son they cut him out of their lives. At the same time Mitch loses his life in a tragic accident. Floundering at first Andy finally finds comfort and the strength to go on in his friendship with ER nurse Jake Singer.

As time passes the men grow steadily closer as their friendship deepens and eventually they fall in love. Together they get through Andy’s mourning of Mitch, the loss of his family and the beginning of his career.

What didn’t work for me…

I was very intrigued with this book when I first read the blurb. I expected lots of emotion in the story as Andy dealt with the loss of his first love as well as his estrangement from his family. While the story was very emotional I wasn’t able to really connect with the characters and found it a bit unbelievable at times. As completely torn up as Andy was with Mitch’s untimely death I felt his relationship with Jake was too rushed. Although the author did attempt to show it wasn’t easy for him by showing how Andy had problems saying ‘I love you’ to Jake until almost the end of the book.

I also felt at times that they were living in a ‘gay utopia’. Aside from Andy’s parents no one else had a problem with them being gay. There was never any problem at his school, in their everyday lives or even in the small town where he goes to cover for a vacationing Rabbi. In fact during this time I felt it even more. I also felt that Jake coming up with the answer to a medical problem someone in that small town was having was too convenient. With tons of money and influence, a strong presence in the Jewish religious community and having had access to the best doctors I couldn’t believe it was Jake who figured out a way to get him help. And that it quickly worked.

What did work for me…

I liked the protagonists and the secondary characters, Clare and Kira, although again I felt Clare, Mitch’s mother, acted a bit unbelievably. But I did enjoy their interactions during the story. I also enjoyed reading about the Jewish faith and some of their customs. That part was quite interesting and never felt like too much information.

Overall…

I had a bit of trouble deciding on the rating for this story. On the one hand I was disappointed with the story for the reasons stated above yet found some parts interesting. This is the first book by this author that I’ve read and while I liked her writing style I felt the story didn’t deliver on its potential. In the end the rating reflects the fact that there was more that let me down than engaged me in this story. While I can’t recommend it fans of the author and those looking to read an emotional if somewhat unrealistic story may enjoy Seasons of Change.

10 comments

  • I’ve been debating whether or not to buy this book because the blurb sounded so interesting, but I haven’t been a big fan of the author’s other works. So, needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t buy it after reading your review. I would have had the same issues with it you did, and then I would have just been mad that I’d wasted the money.

    Reply
  • I think I’d have the same problems with this story as you had, Lily. To a m/m romance featuring a rabbi, there’s almost as much potential for great conflict inside and out as for a story with a catholic priest. Rabbis, particularly conservative ones, are supposed to marry and have children, as far as I know. So I think a small town community would have more than a few difficulties with accepting a gay man as their rabbi. According to your review, this is a bit too easily solved, which is too bad, because the blurb soiunded intriguing to me, too. Jewish settings are not so common and I like them. Think I’ll pass over this, though.

    Reply
    • Feliz, the opportunity was there to really make this an interesting story. However, the lack of conflict, the super gay-friendly world and the quickness of their developing relationship felt off, imo.

      Reply
  • Hi Lily, thanks for this review.

    I read another book by this author (and reviewed it here at the site) and it had a major insta-love element, which it sounds like this book has too. It seems to me that this author isn’t very good at writing realistic emotional journeys. People take time to grieve, fall in love, come out (that was in the other book I read)—these things don’t happen in hours or days. That was a major frustration for me in the book I reviewed and it sounds like I’d have the same problem with this one…thus, I shall pass. Nice cover, though. 🙂

    L

    Reply
  • Lily

    I would have the same problems you identified with this book – the ease with which Andy moved on after Mitch’s death being the major one.

    Many authors are now writing stories with OK Homo worlds, and even though I hate it when they go completely on the opposite side of the scale and show all the supporting characters as being homophobic, there has to be a balance – some measure of reality.

    >>I also felt that Jake coming up with the answer to a medical problem someone in that small town was having was too convenient. With tons of money and influence, a strong presence in the Jewish religious community and having had access to the best doctors I couldn’t believe it was Jake who figured out a way to get him help. And that it quickly worked.< < The magic of fantasy Lily. LOL. Great review of what seems to be a complex book especially since the story didn't live up to its potential.

    Reply

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