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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

'The River of No Return' by Bee Ridgway

From the BLURB:
In Bee Ridgway’s wonderfully imaginative debut novel, a man and a woman travel through time in a quest to bring down a secret society that controls the past and, thus, the future.​
“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.”
Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Lord Nicholas Falcott wakes up in a hospital bed in twenty-first century London. The Guild, a secretive organization that controls time travel, helps him make a new life in the modern world.

But Nick yearns for home and for one beautiful woman in particular, now lost to history.

Back in 1815, that very woman, Julia Percy, finds herself the guardian of a family secret inherited from her enigmatic grandfather... how to manipulate time. But there are those who seek to possess Julia’s power and she begins to realize she is in the gravest peril.
The Guild’s rules are made to be broken, and Nick discovers how to travel back to the nineteenth century and his ancestral home. Fate and the fraying fabric of time draw Nick and Julia together once again . . . soon enough, they are caught up in an adventure that puts the future of the world into their hands.
Love endures the gulf of centuries . . . and so does danger.  As gripping as it is evocative, The River of No Return is a sweeping story of lovers who match wits and gamble their hearts against the rules of time itself.

‘The River of No Return’ was the 2013 historical-fantasy novel by Bee Ridgway.

It’s that time of year again when I remember I haven’t read a new Diana Gabaldon book since 2014 (Holy. Hell!) so I start doing Google searches for “Time Travel. Romance. Historical.” and taking a gamble on whatever comes up. This time around it was Ridgway’s ‘The River of No Return’, which I very vaguely remembered got some good praise from my Goodreads friends at the time of release way back in 2013.

This book started out really promising – with intricate and eclectic set-up of the time-travel parameters. First we’re introduced to a 19th century British Lord, living in the 21st – and then we meet a young woman in 1815 whose grandfather is on his deathbed, and able to “speed up” the process by accelerating time. All very, very cool. And then Ridgway starts honing in on these characters. Lord Nicholas Falcott jumps in time to escape a Napoleonic battlefield, and is then he’s introduced to this affluent society of time travellers in the 21st century, who use time-leaps like currency and completely control and profiteer from the industry surrounding it.

Julia Percy is the girl Nick left behind in his own time – but we switch to her story in 1815, and discover that like The Guild that Nick has just encountered, Julia is able to control and manipulate time (a gift seemingly inherited from her grandfather).

I started out really enjoying this novel, and thinking that I’d hit on a winner for its perfect overlap of historical/time-travel/romance … but once we got out of the woods of anticipating Nick and Julia meeting up again in a shared timeline, the romance started to fall flat – mostly because it’s very timidly written by Ridgway, but also probably because I came into the book craving ‘Outlander’ and set my heat-levels too high. I mean; they were fine and we got some hot n’ heavy scenes, but given that so much is riding on their romance I just didn’t feel their story was epic enough to warrant it.

What more got me through this book was the time-travel aspect, and how intricate and fascinating that was;
 “Human emotion. Millions of souls, together they make the mood of a certain time. It doesn’t matter that they disagree, that they hate, that they fight. All together they create it, this thing. This epoch. Times of war. Times of famine. Times of wealth and happiness. The mood of an era. What is stronger than that?”

It’s basically exploring time-travel as this conglomerate, and maybe it’s because I’ve really gotten into ‘Timeless’ on NBC, but this aspect provided such fascinating thinking for me – and it’s the one aspect of the book that I’m still thinking about, long after I finished reading.

So all in all – this was a nice distracting read, helping me cope with my Outlander-withdrawals. But it didn’t really hit on the romance aspect hard enough, though the time-travel parameters and set-up was wildly intriguing enough for me to hope that there’s some sort of sequel coming out to keep digging at this (perhaps focused on Leo next time?!)


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