Well here’s an example of a book I probably never would have stumbled into on my own. But as soon as Alice said “time travel” and “sexytimes” in her review, there was no future scenario that didn’t include me reading this pretty much immediately.
As Nicholas Falcott, Marquess* of Blackdown, faces his imminent death on the battlefield, he spontaneously jumps forward in time from the 18th century to the 21st. He is met there by a member of the Guild, an organization of time travelers who guard the rivers of time, protect the future, and help accidental time travelers such as Nick discreetly assimilate into their new time and place, wherever that may be. But the Guild has rules for its members, the first and most important being “You can never return” and also “You can never return.” Nick has to leave his home country of England forever, and he can never go back to his own time. The reason for this last one is that the river of time runs ever forward to the sea—and other equally scientific explanations most often delivered by Nick's Guild-approved time-traveling companion, an older gentleman with wild white hair.
|I see what you did there, Ridgway.|
But about that assimilation thing.
All his skills were obsolete. Slaughtering Frenchmen; ignoring the stench of open sewers; dressing in absurdly tight clothing; seducing the buxom, sleepy-eyed daughters of innkeepers. Useless talents in this slick and modern present. These days Frenchmen were nice and unavailable for slaughter. Pretty women were skinny and looked at a single man like Nick with starving intensity, as if he were a piece of low-fat cheese. (p. 37)
He does find his footing eventually, even managing to enjoy the hungry-eyed, forward ladies of the future, which may or may not have something to do with his also getting into the cheese-making business. But by the time he’s good and modernized, the Guild summons him and says, “SURPRISE. Those first two rules are bullshit, and we kind of need you to go back to England and also to the 18th century. Can you still fit into your fancy pants?”
|And WHAT fancy pants they are.|
You see, a rebel faction of time travelers called the Ofan are fiddling with the river of time and it’s having terrible repercussions on the far future. The Guild needs Nick to use his reputation as the lady-killing Marquess to find out what they’re up to.
So then it becomes a bit Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court as Nick tries to unlearn all his modern knowledge and convince his family and old acquaintances that he had amnesia in Spain for 3 years even though he now looks 10 years older and believes in women's rights. The pop culture references are so subtle that I’m pretty sure I missed most of them, which is just how I like my pop culture references. And of course there’s Romance with the dark-eyed girl from his childhood whom he dreamed about every day of his modern life. It’s the best kind of romance, too, because it mostly entails removing one’s glove to touch the other’s bare hand and meeting in the woods without a chaperone and admiring the other’s shapely rump as she rides away atop her horse.
And Julia, in addition to a pleasant backside, has a whole story line all her own that crashes into Nick's in the most intriguing/semi-tragic way. And she is SMART and uniquely TALENTED and just naughty enough to provide us with some entertainment.
|So LA-dee-DA, polite society.|
Word around town is that Ms. Ridgway is continuing this story as a series. I am glad of this.
*I've been pronouncing this title wrong my whole life and maybe you have been, too. Apparently, it's "markwes." That is so awkward in my mouth.