These are stand-alone romances rather than a series as such: in my opinion each has been better than the last as the author has improved with experience, but this first one is funny and entertaining enough to be worth a read if you like silly but amusing paranormal romantic farces.
The heroine Persephone (Seph) Pyle is a cautious, thirtysomething brand manager whose job is marketing a type of aspirin. She is seriously attracted to her handsome co-worker, company lawyer Tom Fraser, and the attraction appears to be mutual, but apart from one instance when they were both drunk and nearly seduced each other, neither has quite managed to do anything about it. Seph has also been working on a novel in her head, which she has never quite got round to writing.
Then at Pittsburg Airport while about to make a business flight, Seph buys a pair of shoes which turn out to have magical properties. She finds herself three centuries back in time, on the deck of a British privateer fighting a hurricane in the Adriatic, much to the astonishment of the crew because you basically do not get hurricanes in the Adriatic. The privateer is commanded by none other than the central character of her unwritten novel, half-pay captain Phillip Drummond.
Drummond, the spitting image of Tom Fraser, is in disgrace with the Admiralty and has accepted the command of a privateer for lack of a position in the Royal Navy. He is desperately trying to get back into favour with the Admiralty, and fed up with a series of impossible, ludicrous or highly unhelpful events, such as hurricanes in the Adriatic, which are making this difficult.
Drummind has asked a gypsy wise woman what has caused these strange events and his run of impossibly bad luck, and been told that they are being caused because a woman three hundred years in the future is writing a book about him, and that unfortunately Seph has a less than encyclopaedic knowledge of either geography or the details of early 18th century history. (One of the running gags in the book is when other characters have to keep explaining some of the most basic facts of geography to our heroine.)
So Drummond asks the wise woman to bring this author back for a visit to his own time so that he can try to persuade her to make the book more authentic (e.g. no more hurricanes in the Adriatic, please!) and ask for her help in finding some missing papers which are vital to his career.
Seph finds Drummond impossible and infuriating, but also extremely sexy. She does try to help him but her attempts backfire, and soon he is in grave danger of being hanged for treason ...
Seph, Tom Fraser who gets caught up in her confused time-travelling, and Drummond will soon all have choices to make about what kind of future they want ...
I had two problems with this book. The first is the slightly confused and open-ended conclusion, in which the heroine and the reader are left to guess rather too much about what has happened and where she stands. The second problem, which contributed to the difficulty with the ending, is ironically one of the more original aspects of the novel with regard to time travel, which was worth a try but unfortunately on this occasion doesn't quite come off.
When characters in a work of fiction travel to another time, another world, or a cyber world, the author has to decide whether this means they are absent from the place they left behind, and what to do about this. The most elegant solution is for their adventure in the other place to take almost no time in our world so that they return to almost exactly the moment they left: this is the solution which C.S. Lewis deployed to great effect in the Narnia series or Stephen Donaldson in his "Thomas Covenant" novels. Even simpler but less elegant is to just gloss over the problem.
Most challenging of the common approaches is for the characters who have gone to another world to be absent from their own, and build into the plot embarrassing, challenging, or comic situations resulting from their absence. Perhaps the best example of this kind is Audrey Niffenegger's brilliant novel The Time Traveler's Wife.
In this book Gwyn Cready tries a completely different tactic: while Seph and Tom are time travelling in another century, their bodies stay behind and run on some kind of autopilot, a little bit like the central character's body does while he is "fast forwarding" in the film "Click [DVD]." And just as in that film, whatever is running their bodies while their conscious minds are away is brilliant at handling their professional careers but causes a serious impact on their personal lives.
The idea is very clever but it doesn't quite work for me, and I note that in her next two time-travel romances the author reverted to two of the more common approaches described above.
Not a book to be taken too seriously, but this is quite entertaining. Because some aspects are brilliantly amusing, this just about scrapes the fourth star, despite the two problems I have described.
If you are amused by the idea of a paranormal romance in which a lady author is confronted by the infuriated hero of her books, who asks her to stop interfering with his life, you might also enjoy the fantasy romance Enchanting by Sharon Green which is based on the same premise.Read more ›