Author: JL Merrow
Publisher: Carina Press
Amazon: Trick of Time
Genre: M/M Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: Time travel allows a rentboy and a man with a fractured heart to collide and discover that true love transcends all boundaries.
A lover from another time
When Ted Ennis steps out the doors of the Criterion Theatre for a cigarette and finds himself in Victorian London, he begins to doubt his sanity. At first he thinks it’s all a film set, and is sure that the strikingly handsome young man leaning against a lamppost must be the leading man…
What starts as a sordid transaction with a beautiful rent boy quickly turns into something much deeper, drawing him back again and again as he gets to know Jem and craves meaningful encounters with him.
But Ted doesn’t understand the exact conditions necessary for his trips through time–and for Jem, time may actually be running out. Now Ted has one last shot to get back to Jem and save their relationship, before it’s too late…
Review: “We’ll make our own stories, he agreed.”
Ted has lost everything, his parents and his partner in a tragic accident that leaves him not only alone but physically fragile and prone to crippling panic attacks accompanied by mind-numbing tremors. He lives a lonely existence, working the phones at the box office of the local theatre and is trying nothing desperately to find a reason to live outside the bottle of booze that allows him to crash into oblivion when the memories become just too much to handle.
So, when he steps outside for a smoke and realizes that the street scene in front of him is from a previous century, he, of course, thinks that it is nothing more than a hallucination of his fractured mind. When Jem, a rentboy whose corner is directly outside the theatre, takes him home, Ted understands that this is no illusion but a very real step back in time.
And then…Ted falls in love. However, there is a most fascinating twist to this story that draws directly from what period play the Criterion theatre is producing at any given moment and exactly what will be found outside the stage door each evening. For Ted and Jem, it means that time is running out and there will be deadly consequences if Ted does not figure out a way to turn back time once again.
JL Merrow certainly delivers the goods with Trick of Time. She takes a fragile hearted man and presents him with a choice, one that will alter forever his life and the life of the man he loves. We watch her story unfold and the attraction grow between the two main characters and are drawn into their swift and sweet love affair.
The author gives us enough period references to make it a tolerable historical fiction but with the twists and turns of an action novel Merrow keeps Trick of Time from sinking into historical drudgery–in other words, the story is fresh, appealing and fast moving. And it is this which is the only problem with this novella overall. The speed at which the story moves leaves gaps–believability gaps for the reader.
Jem is a rentboy, hard and smart, and the ease with which he not only believes Ted’s story about the future but then falls in love with ted skates the edge of unbelievability more often than not. He simply is way to trusting for a young man who has been on the streets for as long as he has been. The author saves this novel again and again by allowing Ted to voice his concerns–concerns about betraying his dead lover’s memory, about pulling Jem from the past into the future and leaving undeniable ripples that may affect history, concerns that Ted is simply losing his mind and Jem is not real.
It is the character of Ted and not Jem who ultimately saves this story from becoming just too unreal, too easy, too predictable. His reality, his angst and his like-ability keeps the reader involved till the end.
Trick of Time is a good novella, a good story, but I think if JL Merrow could have given it just a bit more, lengthened the story just a bit, fleshed out Jem’s character and given him more his intellectual due, it would have been a great story. However, you dear reader must decide for yourself. I recommend you pick up a copy of Trick of Time and see for yourself whether or not this story of love and time travel is a keeper.