Review: The First Hello by Willa Okati

Shawn Tillerman thinks he’s losing his mind. Wary and damaged after a hard life filled with broken promises, he's been having dissociative episodes for the past few months. Flashes of different lives he didn’t live. Walking in the footsteps of men he knows he never was. In these waking dreams, he’s always with a lover, but he can't see the man’s face and doesn’t know his name. Though the episodes are becoming more frequent, he hasn’t told anyone what's happening to him. He’s too busy taking care of his twin sister and keeping her away from Oxy. If he can sell the house he’s inherited from a distant relative, he'll finally have enough money to put her in a good rehab center. He can turn their lives around.

Or not. Because Raleigh, the compelling stranger who wants to buy their house, swears that Shawn isn’t experiencing psychotic episodes, but is reliving memories. That he and Shawn have come together in life after life and time after time. That he is the man from Shawn's dreams, and has been searching everywhere for him. Even if Shawn remembers nothing, Raleigh remembers it all, and he isn’t going to give up now.

Shawn doesn’t believe Raleigh--but he’s beginning to wish he could. What if it is true, after all? What if saying goodbye to all he thought he was sure of is only the first part of hello?

Oh, this was so romantic.

Shawn has had a hard life and is just trying to survive with his sister. He's been having what seem to be flashbacks, but the only problem is there's no way he could have been a part of what he's seeing. He sees himself throughout different time periods, but in all his episodes, he's with another man.

Amongst all this, he's trying to sell the house he inherited so he can continue taking care of his sister. The man who buys the house, Raleigh, takes certain interest in Shawn and tells Shawn what his episodes really are.

I really liked how the author incorporated the flashbacks into the story. I thought they were perfectly woven in with the present story of Shawn and Raleigh. As Shawn gets to know Raleigh in this life, he sees the love they shared in the past. It really brought the characters and their love to life. They were very loving and tender together. Even though they weren't together throughout the present story, I still got a real sense of them as a couple.

Shawn is a very cynical and skeptical character. He doesn't believe in much anymore, let alone a lover from another life who's always been searching for him. Raleigh is open and loving and just wants Shawn to know him so much. I could feel how much he wanted Shawn to know who he was and how hurt he was by Shawn's initial indifference towards him. I loved both characters, but I have a soft spot for Raleigh. He had so much love for Shawn, I really adored his character and his devotion.

I would have liked for their reconciliation to happen sooner, just to get a better feel for their HEA in this lifetime. Also, more closure for what will happen in their next life would have helped. I feel like I missed something, like a big part of their cycle changed, but I'm not completely certain how.

So, the blurb. *sigh* I wish I didn't know the entire plot before I started this story. Literally. It's all there for you. Some mystery behind the episodes would have made this more interesting.

This whole idea of reincarnation is very romantic to me. I really enjoyed this and will definitely look for more from this author in the future.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads.

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