Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The River of No Return: Time travel. Upturned petticoats. ENOUGH SAID.

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.


  1. "“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?”"

    Ahahahahaha Excellent.

    What's up with us liking heroines with nice backsides?

  2. Hey, I don't JUST like heroines with nice backsides. I'll take a good villainous backside, too. Equal backside rights.

  3. I LOVE your fancy pants citation. So good! I've not read this, but the author came to my store and she was totally fab and apparently has been raising eyebrows all over academia (she teaches at Bryn Mawr) for writing such a rollicking good story. But I think that means that you can count on her historical details to be *accurate*.

    re: marquess. i learned this pronunciation from reading Harry Potter fantiction. Long live HP fanfiction!

  4. I nearly bought this a couple of weeks ago. Well, I say 'nearly bought' when what I mean is 'came across it in a bookshop and went BLOODY HELL IT'S BIG' and left it on the shelf (DON'T BE DIRTY, MEGS)

    What I'm saying is, I will probably read it when I find it in the library, and not a moment before! (But but but wild white haired time travelling gentleman? THAT'S MY FAVOURITE KIND!)

  5. FINE I will read this. And really, with lines like "These days Frenchmen were nice and unavailable
    for slaughter" I should get to this sooner rather than later

  6. "Equal backside rights" Like. Like this so much

  7. THAT, madam, is what SHE SAID.

    You didn't say anything about the rest of us not being dirty.

  8. Ok so i couldn't work this into my review, but I got this one from the library and (you may have noticed) took it with me to Mexico, where I promptly finished it. I then loaned it to my brother's GF because she needed a good book for the week. And then it took her the WHOLE WEEK to read 100 pages because she is a Muggle.

    So I extended my hold at the library and let her take it home with her. To NEW YORK CITY. I let the library book out of my hands for an entire month because she needed to read it that badly. That's how good this is.

    Carry on, Fancy Pants.

  9. THANK YOU. Because I was showing such personal restraint, but it was RIGHT THERE.

  10. I can't believe you let someone take your library book across the country. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? This is giving me anxiety.

  11. ME TOO. She finished the book, and my brother has promised to bring it. But so many things need to be remembered for me to get it back! Things I have no control over! /chews on hair