Author: Bee Ridgway
Source: from publisher for review
Summary: This was a great adventure story with a fun romance, but the time travel rules were silly and the ending was lackluster.
This is the second time travel novel I’ve read recently – unusual for me, because I know they’re unlikely to have internally consistent time travel rules that satisfy me. This book lived down to expectations in that regard. The time travel mechanics were a mix of totally nonsensical and non-existent. Fortunately, they’re largely irrelevant for most of the book except to allow the set-up for the plot. On a global scale, we have intrigue and mystery because different people want to use time travel in different ways. At the personal level, we have Nick who’s time travelled from from the early 1800s to 2013. In 2013, he’s been helped to settled in by the Guild, provided with tons of money and given several rules for time travel. He’s living very comfortably until the Guild wants to send him back in time to try to revisit his old life. This leaves Nick struggling to decide what he wants now that he has knowledge of the future, more present-day values, a second chance with a woman he was infatuated with, and the ability to return to the future if he likes.
I loved the first 3/4 of this book. Yes, the time travel made no sense, but it largely got out of the way and allowed for lots of intrigue, romance, and adventure. I couldn’t wait to learn more about the different time travelers and enjoyed the world building. I found Nick’s reaction to his situation believable and was excited to find out how he’d re-engage with politics at the time. His romance with an old neighbor, Julia, whose grandfather knew how to stop time, was also believable. I enjoyed watching Nick actually get to know her as a person instead of as the woman he’d fantasized about. There were lots of exciting subplots and secrets that I just knew were going to collide. I read through this section at breakneck speed, waiting to find out what would happen.
Then, in the last part of the book, the story got a bad case of ‘the protagonists just need to talk to each other to work everything out!’. In romance novels, characters not just talking it out like adults is often the excuse for a drawn out romantic misunderstanding. In this case, the fact that the characters couldn’t stop talking about romance was the problem. They just needed one good conversation about time travel to put the pieces together! Instead, we wasted a good 50 pages on romance and random political events. It felt way too drawn out. Then we did get to the climactic confrontation scene, it was a huge let down. The conflict was easy and over quickly. In the grand scheme of things, almost nothing was resolved. I was further disappointed to see that while this book was published about 8 years ago, there’s still no sequel, so we’re unlikely to get a better ending.
This book has made me think I might need to give time travel more of a try, because it wasn’t what prevented me from enjoying this book. I do wonder if the author’s nonsensical world building is what’s kept her from being able to write a sequel, but that’s pure speculation. Despite a lackluster ending too focused on romance, I enjoyed most of this book immensely. It’s a fun adventure and if the elements of this story appeal to you, it might be worth living with the poor ending.