Author: C.B. Lewis
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 05/15/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Historical, M/M Romance, Science Fiction
Badly wounded and on the run from his WWII Hungarian brigade, Janos Nagy stumbles through a temporal gateway to the future. Suddenly stranded in Manchester, England, 2041, Janos wants answers about a crazy world he doesn’t recognize.
Dieter Schmidt, flamboyant historian/linguist for the Temporal Research Institution has those answers, but the TRI is a neutral entity, set up to verify historical events under a strict code of noninterference. That doesn’t stop Dieter from taking Janos under his protection. Trust doesn’t come easy to Janos, who came from a time when revealing his secrets could get him killed, but the two men slowly build a tentative friendship with a possibility for more. But Janos’s continued presence in the future and Dieter’s persistence raise questions about the limits of the noninterference policy.
Since the rules have been bent once, one agent sees no reason why he can’t push them further, and he travels back to 1914 to make a few changes of his own. Under Janos’s guidance, Dieter must leap back in time to stop the rogue agent from changing the past and risking everyone’s future—if he can survive history.
Dieter, I liked you right away. A smart ass, smart, daring, and with enough of those smarts to be scared out of your wits when warranted. Even more, we’re dropped right into the story, a tense situation, unpredictable in its outcome. Opening with a bang, my curiosity was poked and I was already being given insider info about this world.
So is Nagy Janos, apparently. A soldier who finds himself in an unexpected place, with unexpected people, due to a very unexpected reason. His reticence, rudeness, and fear were palpable and understandable, to say the least. He was in rough shape.
I was confident this story was going to take me places, and it did. The writing fostered great trust, as well, hooking me early on:
He was already pale, but when the icy spray touched the inflamed flesh of his arm, the soldier’s face went grey. The muscles in his jaw twitched as he clenched his teeth, but he didn’t make a sound. His pupils seemed to expand, dark and black and full of pain.
I wanted to know what was going to happen. I already cared about Dieter and Janos. I already felt invested. I was already feeling a healthy dose of worry. Connection made.
The story has a good rhythm to it, given flight by organic portrayal of relationships, instinctive dialogue, and realistic interactions. I understood and liked the friendship between Dieter and Sally, the tense but caring way Dieter and his boss, Sanders treated each other, and this:
Dieter shrugged. “We’re not friends. The bastard shot me. Why should I care?”
“Why shouldn’t you?” Sally said. “It’s human nature to feel compassion for someone who is clearly afraid. It’s not wrong to want to help them.”
Oh, it’s on now, baby.
Janos is afraid, and of many things. He’s also curious, and feeling a need to stretch beyond his current confines. Couple that with Dieter’s inability to ignore his natural inclination to help and you’ve got a winning combo. Granted, that innate talent is sorta kinda well hidden behind several emotionally built walls, and the road is inescapably rough, but it’s so worth the journey. Conflict, discovery, and empathy. Maybe even more?
This author is so very good at relaying intimate detail and drenching it in importance and emotion. The simplest things still feel simple, normal, and yet are weighted with consequence and heart and doubt, so full of expression.
Emotions and thoughts are given time to form and breathe. There’s no rushing here. At the same time, forward progress is maintained, never really letting up. A wonderful combination that kept me fully engaged. Best of all, every part of the telling of this story fit the characters, fit the ways Dieter and Janos expressed themselves, supporting the whys and hows of their actions.
I need to tell you how much I like these two guys. Dieter with his unapologetic potty mouth and even dirtier brain, and Janos with his steady, solid ways… mostly. Both of them can smirk and be grumpy and avoid with the best of them. And then they turn around and leave me breathless with their gentle gestures.
A few traumatic events from the past are mentioned and meant to help explain the mindsets of these two men. We’re not given much detail so their heft was given short shrift. On the flipside, the hoarding of detail and not sharing every last thought fits both of the characters. Still, as the reader, they didn’t quite hit the mark with their intended impact.
This author has major talent for subtlety, stillness, and quiet, surrounding them with ceaseless tension and progress within the story. That idn’t easy, folks, and it worked so well here, so well.
The final act, the final third of this story is a study in how to build and maintain that tension. I could feel everything straining, everything pulled taut, with no obvious release in sight. Intimate gestures, selfless generosity, palpably fear and worry, all of them kept this book fueled and roaring along. No convenient explosions or fake misunderstandings, just human beings trying to survive and maybe end up with something more than what they started.
I’m wholly satisfied, and this is yet another must-read recommendation from me. I’ve been on a roll recently!
still suffering the best book hangover
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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