Title: Show and Tell
Author: Kate McMurray
Cover Artist: Valerie Tibbs
Publisher: Echo Hill Books
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Paranormal M/M
Length: Novel/260 PDF pages/79.6 K words
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Review Summary: While I love the concept of past life regression, its execution in Show and Tell as well as one protagonist left me a bit disappointed.
One of the few joys in Dan’s life is the TV show Junk Shop, a reality show about antiques hosted by the handsome and charismatic Malcolm Tell. Then an old music box turns up, and Dan’s sister encourages him to try to get on the show and meet the object of his affection. He does, and his life changes completely.
When Dan and Malcolm first meet, they have a sudden vision of a couple from the past. Is it a glimpse at a past life or something else entirely? They agree to work together to figure out what is going on, and they stumble upon a forgotten Celtic myth that may explain everything. If the myth is true, then Dan and Malcolm could be a pair of lovers who have been reincarnated over and over again over two thousand years. That seems impossible, but it’s hard to deny that something very strange is happening.
As Dan and Malcolm work to find the truth, they fall for each other hard. But searching for who they really are puts them both in grave danger, and they find themselves racing against time to keep their happily ever after.
I wanted to read this book because the topic of reincarnation or past life regression is something I have been interested in for a long time and about which I have read extensively. Also, I love this author’s stories and reviewed a number of them. However, while I admire Kate McMurray’s imagination in giving readers a different kind of story than the usual boy meets boy, they fall in love, have a few crises and then live happily ever after, the execution of Show and Tell left me disappointed.
When Dan and Malcolm met in present day it soon became clear, through a series of events which I won’t detail because I don’t want to spoil it for you, that they had known each other for at least 2000 years. The book spanned their various past lives, many of which were quite interesting, even amusing, and I really liked the descriptions of Malcolm’s origins as a supernatural being and minor god who gave up everything for his love of Dan, but I didn’t have many warm feelings toward Dan as I found him indecisive and his character reminded me of similar characters in a few of this author’s other books especially Jake in Four Corners. This couple had loved each other and been together for centuries so it seemed incomprehensible to me that Dan would refuse to commit to his lover in present day. Although Malcolm on the other hand was almost too eager to live together and get married, I understood his perspective; he had loved Dan for several centuries and had given up a lot to be with him – being a god and immortality – so it wasn’t illogical that he would want a commitment from Dan.
I think my main problem with this book was that while I enjoyed many of the ‘lives’ lived and the time travel aspect of the story, the number of past lives became a distraction for me as I wanted more of the couple in present day resolving their issues. Even though the author varied the time the MCs spent in each life as Aengus and Caoimhin, their real identities, some of them, while interesting, went on too long in my opinion. In one life Dan spent 20 years as a female, 10 of which were without Malcolm who had been murdered, which caused Dan to spiral into a major depression and eventually death.
My issues with Dan’s character made it difficult for me to be fully engaged in the story as it was told from his first person POV. I found his inability to commit to Malcolm to be a distraction and not grounded in a really solid foundation, although the author did try to explain Dan’s reasons, but that happened late in the book and involved an abusive ex boyfriend who showed up with yet another complication that affected our heroes negatively. I thought this was an unnecessary distraction in a story that had more than enough complexity and external conflicts.
On the positive side the story was a history lesson as we were thrust into Gettysburg in 1863 as well as many other periods in America’s past, which was very interesting. I also liked the supernatural, mythical aspects of the story especially Aengus’s father who, when confronted with the problem of his son, a god, falling in love with a mortal fisherman helped them by permitting Aengus to share his immortality with Caoimhin, but in effect this doomed them to live many lives throughout eternity.
Caer, the villain of the piece, another minor supernatural or shapeshifter, who had been in love with Aengus for centuries and dedicated her life to scheming to take him away from Caoimhin, was not as villainous as I expected even though she was instrumental in Caoimhin’s death in many of his lives. Obviously a lot of research went into this story and it was well written, but I just didn’t connect to it because of the reservations I expressed earlier. In addition, I felt that the characters in some cases took second billing to the plot. Obviously there’s a lot more to the story than I could include in this review or I would run the risk of spoilers and I know that many fans of this writer will enjoy Show and Tell.
I had a lot of difficulty coming up with a rating for this book and compromised at 3.25 stars. I liked some aspects of the story but eventually Dan’s character and some of the plot dragged down my rating.