I decided to read Freudian Slip because it looked fun, little more than a cute title and pair of legs on the cover. I now need to get to my local secondhand bookstore in order to search out Erica Orloff’s backlist. After all, until I read her previous novels I can’t properly consider myself a fan. But Freudian Slip is enough to make me a fan of Orloff on its own merits.
Kate just discovered her fiancé David in bed with her best friend Leslie, only to go home and discover her apartment burgled and her dog missing. Julian just got shot and is comatose in the hospital. Neither one of them is having a good day. Then Julian discovers he’s supposed to act as a guide for Kate and help her discover what she needs. The problem is that Julian is a grade-A jerk obsessed with lesbian porn and drugs.
Kate does not begin the novel entirely unconfident. But she is in a bad place, and needs to feel she’s beautiful and attractive again. It’s wonderful to watch her rebuild her life and to see Julian get over his self-obsession by focusing on someone else’s needs. Julian could be very easy to hate, but Orloff does an incredible job with his character. His past behavior is explained, but never excused, and the changes in his character seem organic rather than forced.
Developing an afterlife is always tricky, but Orloff really nails it. Though the structure is Judeo Christian based, she incorporates other religions and doesn’t preach. She’s also created one of the most terrifying hells I’ve ever read. It’s simple, but she describes it in an incredibly chilling manner. It definitely made me more worried about Julian signing his soul to hell. It also provides a brief moment of pity for the demon characters who have to live that way.
Orloff also navigates the difficult waters of Kate’s grief for her father, a firefighter who died in 9/11. She shared a close relationship with him, and was additionally hurt by her mother’s quick remarriage. It’s been several years, but she never dealt with her grief and her current stress level forces her to face her issues. And I love that she gets a therapist instead of just relying on the voice in her head. I also love the balance Orloff strikes between dealing with Kate’s romantic troubles and her other issues. She adds substance without making Freudian Slip angsty or depressing.
Freudian Slip is cute, like I hoped when I saw the cover and title. But it feels like much more. The characters had incredible chemistry and a true series of obstacles to overcome. Some plots did feel dropped unexpectedly – what did happen to Leslie’s soul? Or David’s? Yeah, they did something bad, but Julian was forgiven for worse. However, I didn’t those questions didn’t come to mind until after I was done reading. Orloff pulled me in and didn’t set me free until the last page.
When shock jock Julian Shaw is shot, he expects a white light, or perhaps his dearly departed grandmother. What he gets instead is a Guide, Gus, and an assignment: a lovesick Kate Darby, whose life is a mess. A romantic comedy . . . between Heaven and Hell.
Read an excerpt here.