Author: Brian Cohen
Publisher: iUniverse
ISBN: 978-1-4401-5025-8

The Life O’Reilly is an unusual book that does not fit clearly into any genre. It opens like a legal thriller and morphs into a love story. The story is hard hitting, romantic and introspective by turns. At its heart, this is a story of transformation.

Nick O’Reilly has it all. At 36, he is a partner in a prestigious Wall Street legal firm and has all the things money can buy, including a beautifully decorated apartment overlooking Central park. Nick is not completely happy with his work defending corporate executives from financial loss, but it pays the bills. When his firm dumps a public relations-inspired pro bono case in Nick’s lap, however, everything changes.

Nick’s new client is Dawn and her small son, Jordan. Dawn is the victim of violent domestic abuse and wants out before her son gets hurt. She wants a divorce and a clean break but is afraid of her husband, who continues to stalk her.

As Nick works to provide legal protection for Dawn and Jordan, he realizes how empty his life is and that what he really wants is not success or money. And as he falls in love with Dawn, Nick realizes he wants things money cannot buy: love and family and meaningful work.  When Nick sees himself through Dawn’s eyes, he finds out that he is a better man than he knew than he knew he could be. The story takes a tragic turn, and Nick determines that the people he loves are the only things worth spending his life on.

The Life O’Reilly is difficult to categorize and that may be its greatest weakness. Readers looking for a crime drama may put the book down when it turns to romance, and readers looking for a romance may not get far enough into the book to find it. The pacing of the book feels uneven to the reader, but it fits the story, slowing down as O’Reilly’s life slows.

Readers who don’t finish the book, however, are missing something. Cohen’s romance is luscious, but doesn’t quite cross the line into voyeurism. The Life O’Reilly is a poignant, sensitive story about what is important in life. For Nick O’Reilly, financial and career success is just not enough to get him through the tough times.  Love, family and good friends are far more important.

Cohen has a great story to tell in his first novel. As his writing matures, I believe we will see some very good literature from him. Cohen is not a John Grisham or a Jane Austen. He is Brian Cohen, a writer who has found his own unique voice. I’m looking forward to his next novel, and the one after that.

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