I haven’t read a Time Travel Romance in a long time so it was fun and exciting to get back into it with this modern woman’s historical caper. I was prepared to have a bit of fun, but I was astoundingly surprised by how much more I got out of this story than I was expecting from the historical authenticity to the depths of the characters to the lovely twisty points of the plot. Oh, the light and humorous stuff was there and a goodly amount of spicy passion was also tossed in for good measure. All around engaging and made for a wonderful reunion between me and the Time Travel Romance.
The story opens with Isobelle Rochon, an American and a temp worker at the British Museum, attending a reenactment ball set for 1830s England. She wants to make a big impression on her boss because she is in the running for a permanent job at the museum that will allow her to she loves and give her the money necessary to continue restoration on the property she purchased in the country. The home called to her and she put all she had into acquiring it, but now she needs a good steady job to keep it. Her home is also the old country estate where she found the hidden journal and silver card case on which she is basing her presentation for the job. Others are competing too, but she is determined particularly after she discovered that the guy she has been crushing on only showed his interest to get her to back out of the running. Story of her life with men. None wanted the real Isobelle it seemed and she should have learned her lesson by now. She wishes that she could go back in time to when men were gentleman and women were ladies…
And then it happened. Oh, she couldn’t believe it at first, but the clues were stacking up. Somehow, Isobelle had traveled back in time. Her first encounters are with The Ada Byron, Lord Byron’s daughter and her cousin Lord Montegu. Both are kind and help her even if they think her an oddity. Isobelle entrusts Ada with the truth, but she holds back on trusting Lord Montegu mostly because she needs to keep the attractive man at a distance. She tries to live as inconspicuously as possible as she figures out how she got there and more importantly, how she will get back.
Phineas is captivated by the quirky American from the moment he encounters her and can’t get her out of his mind. But he can’t let even Miss Rochon distract him from his quest for revenge- a revenge that has compelled him to destroy his own reputation in society to achieve his goal. The rakish reputation needs to be set aside as he moves on in the next step. He soon comes up with a proposition involving Miss Rochon that will benefit them both. He offers to help Miss Rochon financially so she doesn’t have to depend on poor Ada’s generosity and she in turn can help him by lending him respectability through a false engagement that will get him into the right homes of the men he still needs to investigate. Soon though, he is as caught up in Isobelle’s intrigues as he is his own. He wants her secrets and he wants their engagement to be real.
The story really had a lot going on, but that didn’t mean that it got loose and sloppy with the plotting. I enjoyed that both Isobelle and Phineas were taking turns doing the narration. The opening gambits were hilarious as Isobelle went through culture shock and by encountering her, Ada and Phineas did too. I liked that it was a bit of a struggle to accept as it should be. I liked that the explanation for how it could happen was left more to speculation without some long drawn out theory. Its a romance so magical means and a bit of mystery work for me.
The story has a few different major threads that need resolution by the end and I enjoyed pursuing all of them. The pacing varied both with exciting moments and quiet ones. The middle slowed down, but I didn’t get bored. It took the time to develop not only the friendship and romance between Isobelle and Phineas, but there were some good scenes with Ada and Isobelle too. Phineas’ project was left vague until near the end so that added some mild suspense and in the end, his need for revenge was totally justified. His sacrifice in the end because of his love for Isobelle made my eyes tear up- now that was love. He’s a hero in more than name only.
Like with most time travel stories, Isobelle is faced with the dilemma of to stay or to go. Loving Phineas isn’t the problem. Isobelle has learned not to trust love even though she wants it so badly that she even dreamed of going back in the past. She is a strong woman in some ways, but so vulnerable when it comes to trusting men and trusting the right one to see her worth. Phineas was constricted by the times he lived in and by his focus on revenge. That didn’t get in the way of the two of them getting up to some sexy times and flouting convention a bit though it did complicate things outside the bedchamber. The cultural differences were enough to wreck havoc for them several times, but it was Isobelle’s fears that acted as the biggest barrier of all. I wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled because she let fear drive her into giving up her chance at true happiness. Fortunately, it’s a romance so I finished with a smile instead of a clenched jaw.
In the end, I thought this a fabulous read and would heartily recommend it to lovers of Time Travel Romance, but also those who enjoy historical romance for the authentic historical backdrop, engaging characters and engaging plot.
My thanks to the author for providing the book in exchange for my honest review thoughts.