Day 1236: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit

Cover for A Most Extraordinary PursuitHaving read Juliana Gray’s second Emmaline Truelove novel, A Strange Scottish Shore, a few months ago, I decided to read the first. Juliana Gray, by the way, is a pen name for Beatriz Williams, known for her historical romances.

It is February 1906, and Emmaline is finishing up the details for the funeral of her employer, the Duke of Olympia, when the Duchess sends for her. It seems that Maximillian Haywood, the heir to the dukedom, has not been heard from in months. He was off working at the newly discovered archaeological site of the palace of Knossos, but he has not sent in his expected report or responded to any messages. The duchess asks Emmaline to go find him, accompanied by Lord Silverton, a renowned womanizer but apparently also some sort of government agent.

As Emmaline sets off on her journey aboard the duke’s steamship, she finds herself re-evaluating her first impression of Lord Silverton as a simpleton. She also can’t deny he has his charms. Unfortunately, nor can most of the women they meet.

This is a fun adventure story with a bit of a twist—time travel! You’ll like the practical, redoubtable heroine, Emmaline, and the charming Lord Silverton and will probably have a good time along with them on their journey.

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Day 1148: A Strange Scottish Shore

Cover for A Strange Scottish ShoreHere I go again, starting a series at the second book. This time, I wasn’t aware it was part of a series until I went to enter it in Goodreads as currently reading. In some cases, it being the second in a series doesn’t matter, but if A Strange Scottish Shore sounds appealing to you, I advise that you start with the first Emmaline Truelove book, A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. I might just try to find a copy myself.

A lot is going on here, and it takes a while to figure out all of it. It is 1906, and Emmaline Truelove works for Max, the Duke of Olympia, in charge of some type of foundation. Emmaline is a practical, down-to-earth person, but she is helping Max try to learn about a power he doesn’t understand, the ability to move people through time.

Emmaline is on her way to Scotland with important documents when she meets two different men. A ginger-haired man seems to be stalking her until Lord Silverton comes to her train compartment. Lord Silverton, with whom she has had adventures in the previous book, is a handsome man with a reputation with the ladies, so Emmaline can hardly believe him when he claims to have fallen in love with her. Nevertheless, she spends the night with him, only to awaken the next morning and find her papers gone.

In Scotland, Emmaline and Max are summoned to a castle in the Orkney Islands to view a suit that the owner found hidden in a secret compartment of a chest that hasn’t been opened in centuries. The suit sounded to me like a wetsuit, which of course hasn’t been invented yet in 1906. The castle has a legend of the founder of the family having been married to a selkie, so Emmaline and Max begin calling it a selkie suit.

link to NetgalleyIn the meantime, Lord Silverton has disappeared. Emmaline finds clues that he has been in this castle at another time. She concludes that Max inadvertently sent him back in time, so she talks Max into sending her back for him.

This novel features a redoubtable heroine, a nasty villain, and plenty of action, plus time travel! If this sounds like your thing, you will probably enjoy the combination of historical novel, speculative fiction, action, and romantic suspense.

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Day 875: The River of No Return

Cover for The River of No ReturnThe River of No Return was popular a few years ago, but I didn’t get around to reading it until now. The plot combining time travel and romance reminded me of The Time-Traveler’s Wife, which I loved. I found Ridgway’s book not nearly as interesting, though.

Nick Davenport appears to be a wealthy dilettante dabbling in cheese making in 2013, but in 1810, he was Nicholas Falcott, Marquess of Blackdown. While fighting in the Peninsular Wars, he was suddenly thrust forward in time to 2003. There he was picked up by a society of time travelers called the Guild, trained to live in modern times, and given a potload of money to live on. Now, the Guild wants him to travel backward to 1815, something he didn’t even know could be done, and resume his earlier life to carry out a mission for them.

Back in 1815, Julia Percy’s grandfather has just died, leaving her at the mercy of an unknown cousin. Since she was a child, Julia has watched her grandfather play little tricks with time. She is just beginning to realize that she can do it, too. Then her cousin Eamon arrives and begins looking for something, a talisman. Julia eventually realizes that she herself is the talisman.

When Nick arrives back in time, he learns he is to find a representative of a rival time-travel society called the Ofan and kill that person. The Guild has learned that the time period within which they can go forward is moving backward in time, and they think the activities of the Ofan have affected the river of time. The Guild thinks this Ofan member lives in a house neighboring Nick’s, the home of Julia Percy.  But Nick has no intention of killing anyone.

A portion of this novel is more romance novelish than I like, a fairly standard romantic plot with unlikely (for the time) sex scenes. Since I am not a fan of the standard romance novel, this was not a plus for me.

Worse, though, is the theory of time travel and its link with human emotions and monetary exchange, which is scientifically absurd. Audrey Niffenegger’s genetic abnormality is at least faintly believable.

All in all, my reaction was fairly meh. The novel is well written, but I wasn’t particularly interested in most of the characters. I thought Nick was incredibly naive about the Guild and went along with it far too long. An alternate explanation of the moving time horizon seemed immediately obvious to me, although it is not addressed in this novel. Because this novel is clearly designed for a sequel, only the romance plot is resolved.

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