A guest review by Jenre
This time-travel romance has an interesting premise and likeable characters, but was let down by too many errors in the British setting.
Sir Gerard Fogg, knight in the Royal Guard of the kingdom of Algonwick, is in love with the King’s only son, Prince Tristan Fysher. The two men carry on a secret, sexual affair and proclaim their undying love for one another, only to have it torn apart by an intruder from the future. A white supremacist named Malcolm, stumbling on a time portal between 2006 and their time of 1456, murders Tristan and escapes to the future.
Sentenced to death for failing to protect the Prince, Gerard is freed by the King’s advisor, Ranulf Godfrey, the one man who knows where to find the murdering Malcolm. The two men travel through time to 2006 to discover the castle they love in ruins and a handsome young researcher named Jon Calder cataloging the artifacts of Algonwick’s forgotten age. Jon, who has never felt as though he fit in anywhere except the ruins of this castle, is the vessel within which resides the soul of the murdered Prince. As Gerard and Jon embark on a journey of sexual discovery more than 500 years in the making, the murderous Malcolm circles ever closer.
I love a good time-travel romance. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I really like the whole ‘fish out of water’ scenario. When I read the blurb for this story I was interested in seeing whether the author could make the ‘soul mates’ story work (I’ve had mixed experiences with such books) and I was also intrigued by the setting of England in the 1400s.
Gerard is a young knight at the court of King Everard. He’s also in love and having an illicit affair with the king’s son, Prince Tristan. When tragedy strikes, Gerard travels through a time portal to the future in order to avenge the death of his love, only to meet his lover’s soul reincarnated in Medieval scholar, Jon.
I have to admit, it took me quite a long time to get into this book. I found it very slow going for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the blurb tells us that Tristan is murdered during the story. I assumed that this would happen pretty quickly, but that wasn’t the case. Tristan’s death happens about a quarter of the way through the book and up until that point the book is made up of several sex scenes involving Gerard and Tristan where they declare their undying love for each other. Because I knew Tristan was going to die, I was slightly distanced from him as a character and didn’t have an emotional connection with him. Add this to the fact that the first part is mostly sex, and I found it all a bit dull. Another reason why I found it difficult to engage with the book at first is because there were a few glaring inaccuracies with the historical setting which pulled me out of the story. For example, after a bath, Gerard and Tristan dry themselves with towels, but towelling wasn’t invented until over 400 years after the story is set. There were some language mistakes too with Americanisms such as using ‘quit’ instead of the British ‘stop’, which jarred with the setting and pulled me out of the story.
Things got better after Tristan’s death and the story moved forward in time and switches narrator from Gerard to Jon, who has the soul of Tristan. I liked Jon a great deal, and could sympathise with his feelings of displacement. In fact the part of the story which focuses on Jon as the reincarnation of Tristan actually worked well. I felt that Jon was a person in his own right, and I liked how Gerard fell just as much in love with Jon as a man, as well as his soul. I was slightly disappointed not to get Gerard’s point of view during the part set in modern times, because I would have liked to have known how he felt to see Algonwick castle in ruins, as well as adjusting to modern times. In fact, Gerard fits in rather too easily with his life in 21st century England and would have thought he would have drawn much more attention than he did. However, I was enjoying the story too much to be too bothered about that.
Despite liking the second part of the story, I was still being constantly jarred out of the action with further inconsistencies, this time with the dialogue. Jon uses the word ‘oi’ when he hails someone, or wants to catch their attention. Every time he did this (which was very often) , it threw me right out of the story because in Britain the word ‘oi’ is actually an incredibly impolite way of gaining someone’s attention – usually used only by those who are spoiling for a fight or in anger. The correct term would be ‘excuse me’, not ‘oi’. The book would have greatly benefited from having a British person read over the manuscript before publication because mistakes such as this and a few others could have been picked up very easily. Thus I found my reading interrupted time after time and it made it difficult to engage fully in the characters or story.
It’s a shame really because the writing and the descriptions of setting are done really well, the story is imaginative, the characters well rounded and the love between Jon and Gerard quite emotional satisfying. If it hadn’t been for the numerous sex scenes at the beginning and the way I kept being thrown out of the action by the errors, then I would have enjoyed this book a great deal and given it a much higher mark. As it is, this book was only an average read for me. Those of you who are from outside the UK would probably not have the problems with the book that I did, so I would still recommend that you give it a go, especially if you like time-travel stories.