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Book Review: Soulmated (Joining of Souls Book 1) by Shaila Patel

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan has a huge target on his back. Having just been named the leader of his entire empath clan, he suddenly sees potential enemies everywhere, especially considering he is looking for his soulmate. Since the age of six and guided by his father’s visions, Liam and his family have traveled across the United States, moving from town to town in search of the girl destined to “join” with Liam. However, no empath in centuries has had a soulmated union. No one  knows how the joining occurs or what actually happens when it does, and Liam is tired of his parents’ pushing and the search for what he considers a fantasy girl, but he agrees to give his parents one more year of his life, moving with them to North Carolina for his senior year without any expectations of finding his soulmate until he sees his new neighbor. Laxshmi Kapadia is on the fast-track to graduate a year early. Her mother, an overprotective and overbearing widow, has Laxshmi’s whole life planned out. Either her daughter attends med school, or she marries a proper Indian boy. Neither prospect appeals to Laxshmi, who wants to major in dance and isn’t even ready for dating much less marriage. So, when she meets the handsome new boy two doors down from her house, she’s confused and suspicious as he becomes increasingly more attentive to her, unaware that she possesses strong latent empathic abilities. Liam is shocked by how powerful Laxshmi is and completely smitten with her mesmerizing eyes, but as the two become closer, a strange power begins to emerge, a power that threatens both their lives and draws the attention of the very enemies Liam fears. 

A major theme in the novel is that of responsibility, both familial and that owned to oneself. At barely eighteen, Liam has to prove himself worthy to lead his clan. He sees it as a great honor, but he isn’t blind to how his life will change with the added burden becoming the “prince” brings. In addition to his rigorous school schedule and homework, he must also constantly review the financial documents of his people since their success rests on his shoulders. His heightened empathic abilities make him an asset to the entire empath world but also a dangerous wildcard. Though Liam has no desire to control the Group of Elders, others, including his own father, see that as his future. Combine that with his potential to be the first soulmated empath in centuries, and Liam, the boy, becomes lost in his own abilities. Since no one in recorded history actually knows what becoming soulmated will do to him or for him, those eager for power see only a threat. Searching for his mate has dominated his teenage years so much that Liam has never actually dated a girl of his own choosing, “researching targets” instead. His strong sense of responsibility has cost him and will continue to cost him years of his life.

Laxshmi’s life isn’t any easier. Since the death of her father five years ago, she has become her mother’s sole focus. Because she and her mother struggle financially, Mrs. Kapadia is determined to make sure Laxshmi will not–either by becoming a rich doctor or marrying a wealthy man, and though she balks at her mother’s control, Laxshmi can’t help but feel she must also play the role of the dutiful daughter sue to a promise made to her deceased father. She is willing to give up her own dreams to pursue those outlined by her mother rather than shirk her responsibility to take care of Mrs. Kapadia. Laxshmi honors her mother’s wishes to stay away from all boys, especially those who are non-Indian, though it means she may be missing out on a genuine love with Liam. Her life is so limited by her mother and herself that she is far from the typical teenage girl. Ironically, both Liam and Laxshmi see a certain freedom in the responsibility of a relationship with each other. Though they know the emotional investment is great, they find the prospect of choosing their own paths oddly freeing. Rather than feeling burdened by another’s emotions, they are made stronger. 

This review was written for Chanticleer Reviews.