Tumbling Through Time

Gwyn Cready
February 2008, Time Travel Romance
Pocket, $6.99, 400 pages, Amazon ASIN 1416541152

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Warm

I have a few rules for time-travel romances. The most important is that at the end the book the hero and heroine choose to live in the past or the present. None of this "my soul will find yours" nonsense for me. I want the HEA. I knew that within a few chapters of Tumbling Through Time that my rules would have to be tossed because I was not reading a traditional time travel romance. I was reading a first-person, chick lit, parallel universe time travel novel. If you are scratching your head at this description, think of how I felt reading it.

Persephone Pyle falls for a pair of pink taffeta, high-heeled sandals. Once she puts them on, she is whisked back in time landing aboard an English privateer’s ship in the early 1700’s. Captain George "Philip" Drummond called her back in time because her as-yet-unwritten romance novel has caused great disruption with both the forces of nature and history. George Drummond, aka Drum, is the historical figure that her hero will be based on, re-christened "Philip" for the novel. The situations that the fictional Captain Drummond finds himself in effect the real George. He has lost essential naval dispatches and is tired of weathering hurricanes every day. He needs Seph’s help in fixing the matter, which is why he had a gypsy cast a spell on the shoes so that she would come to him. Are you confused yet?

Poor Persephone is. How can she fix something she has not yet even written? As she meets the people in Drum’s life, they remind her of people in her own life and characters from previous writing attempts. When the missing dispatches turn up in Drum’s cabin, he is arrested. Seph vows to help him and is whisked back into the present by a kiss so she can search for some answers.

During her sojourn into the past, a more sexually aggressive doppelganger has taken Seph’s place in the present and put the moves on Tom. Seph has been attracted to Tom for some time, but has been too cautious to make their business friendship into something more, despite a drunken encounter during an office party. Tom proves useful as Seph tries to learn what happened to the “real” Captain Drummond. The news is not good; he was hanged as a spy. So Seph and Tom must return to the past and set things right.

Persephone has many good qualities, she is funny, she cares for her father, and she likes her job and is good at it. She claims to be a size 14 and seems perfectly at ease with that fact. But she does have her weaknesses, too. She is very cautious in relationship matters, though her hesitation is never explained. She has little working knowledge of historical events, and no sense of geography either. Though she wants to be a writer, she has yet to get started.

Because Tumbling Through Time is told in the first-person, we do not get a glimpse of Tom’s thoughts - something that I missed. He looks like the fictional/real Captain Drummond, so we know that Seph sees his hero potential. He seems to know and understand Seph fairly well in return. He was able to recognize that her replacement twin was not the woman he wanted. He is willing to help her in solving Drum’s troubles. But he is also moving to Paris to start a new job in a few weeks.

LOL moments and plenty of adventure fill the book, but in the end I was disappointed. The convoluted plot meant there was too much left unexplained, like how did Drum figure out that an unwritten novel was the cause of his troubles? Also, which characters were "real" and which were not sometimes remained nebulous. I did not know that Drum was supposed to be based on a real person until he was Googled. But my true disappointment came with the ending - it didn't satisfy me; to say more would enter into spoiler territory. There's much to like about this book, but my guess is that many readers will likely be as frustrated as I was when they turn the last page.

-- Carolyn Esau

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