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Monday, December 10, 2007

Review: Ultimate Passage

The Ultimate Passage
by Jean Hackensmith and Kathe Birch

Darius Calhoun is President of the U.S.—in the year 2320. Citizens of earth now live in domed cities, because pollution has reached the point where the air is no longer fit to breathe. They no longer feel hatred, jealousy, envy or love. They don’t have sex either, and haven’t for nearly two hundred years. Why? Because it’s messy, unsanitary and can transmit disease. Imagine Darius’ horror then, when he suddenly finds himself displaced in time at the whim of the goddess Aveena—goddess of love.

His trek to 14th century Scotland is every man’s nightmare. He is forced to live in a cold, drafty castle, wear a kilt, and use the ghastly “privy” when it comes time to take care of nature’s call. Worst of all, he is expected to be an “advisor” to Robert the Bruce, the self-proclaimed King of Scotland. How is he to counsel the king on tactics of war when, where he came from, that barbaric institution, too, had been extinct for over two hundred years?

Only one thing in this godforsaken time period enables Darius to keep his sanity. Her name is Lara Macgregor. Her father is lord of the castle and its surrounding lands. Lara is beautiful, spunky—and looking for a mate. Of course, in this day and age, that means having sex and Darius wants no part of it. He feels nothing for Lara but friendship…at least he didn’t at first. Now though, strange things are happening to his mind and body and, with the war for independence in Scotland gaining momentum, so does Darius’ resolve that at some point in time, government leaders in his own world did something terribly wrong.

The warm Scottish brogue that greets readers immediately draws us into this vast and complex tale. It could not be more accurate than to say that the main characters in The Ultimate Passage are from different worlds: the fog-enshrouded Scottish castle to the Oval Office in Washington, D.C. The eras - and the people- in this tale are incredibly different, but we also discover that they are remarkably similar. How times and people intersect is only one part of this incredible tale. There are so many elements at work here, it is in fact difficult to assign this work any one specific category. And, no category quite does it justice: Paranormal, alternate history with strong elements of romance and a delightfully deft humor all might offer something of an idea, but in truth, one need not be a fan of any particular category to be intrigued and utterly delighted by this work.

Old battles, current clashes, and a bunch of powerful and opinionated Scotts all comprise the opening. The dialogue is fast-paced and revealing. The desperate situation confronting Scotland is made plain in conversation -- and our sympathies are thoroughly engaged.

The story is intriguing because of personalities as much as politics. As Robert 'The Bruce', the leader of all Scotland struggles to maintain the security of various castles, the main characters struggle to support his efforts. News and war-time intelligence as well premonition guide the decisions of our main characters.

Lara, daughter of a goddess, and faithful to all that is Scotland, is unaccountably supported by the desperate efforts of an enigmatic man from a far distant, far different, future world. The affection he feels for her, as well as passion are as strange to this future man as is this peculiar life in the past. For him, joining the desperate effort to defend Scotland is a voyage of self-discovery, as much as the discovery of a love. The contrasts between his supposed idyllic lifestyle and this struggle of the past are surprising.

And equally surprising, for him, is love; a legendary type of love, an unusual, unlooked-for love, which may change the course of a nation.

Knights and heroes fill this tale, Lords and ladies and all the trappings of the castle life. Courage fills these pages, and trust... and no less, betrayal. Powerful female figures have as much impact on history as do the men. Heart-pounding battle action includes wonderful details from clothing, to details of castles and land, to weapons and more. It all has an accurate historic feel, making the paranormal events seem plausible. The rift in time seems to fade into the background, once its role is established... and it is a shock when time again twists in surprising and unpredictable ways. Aveena's "reinforcements" are a surprising and quite astonishing interlude in what seems a horrendously dark battle and siege.

This incredibly unpredictable story is an absolute page-turner from the start; endearing, suspenseful, and amazingly complex, this is a tale one could happily read over and over again, and each time, discover something new.

The impact of time travel is vital throughout this story - although utterly unpredictable, and at times, quite amusing. Hackensmith and Birch manage to carry forward and amazing amount of detail through all the machinations of this magnificent novel. Small elements that the reader enjoys for their entertainment value crop up later, and only then do we realize the actual import of certain specific events.

Subtle, well written, with a complex storyline and exceptional characters, The Ultimate Passage more than lives up to its name. This is one to buy, keep, read and re-read.

Review by Snapdragon.

ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK -- JUST LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST BETWEEN 12/10/07 - 12/15/07-- AND EARN AN EXTRA ENTRY IN THE DRAWING, TO BE HELD ON 12/16/07. GOOD LUCK! -- This book is in our author spotlight this week, as well, and if you check back daily at the main website, you can earn even more chances to win!

NOTE: If you have a private Blogger profile with no email address available, you must include an email in your entry -- this is how we inform the winner. If we are unable to locate an email for you, you're not eligible to win this prize. Thanks!


Pam P said...

You sold me on it, sounds great and I do love time travels. I see it says Book Two, going to google more about it.

Cheryl said...

Wow! Great review. Now I really want to read it. I see it peeking out at me from my "to be read" pile. I can't wait.

Cheryl M.

Karen H in NC said...

I'd like to add this book to my TBR shelves. Please enter me in the drawing.

byrd_luvr @ (no spaces)

Meljprincess said...

I love anything and everything Scottish! I read and write brogue well. Scottish time travel is such a blast! This book appeals to me greatly and I'd love to win it.

Melissa Keith
Meljprincess at aol dot com

Jean Hackensmith said...

Hi, all: First of all, I want to thank The Long and The Short of It and Snapdragon in particular for the wonderful review on THE ULTIMATE PASSAGE. I sometimes feared I might have gotten too long-winded (the book is 831 pages). Now I know I didn't. It simply took that many pages to tell the story effectively. By the way, Cheryl, this is a two-book set. The cover I sent in just happened to be Book Two. When customers buy THE ULTIMATE PASSAGE, they get BOTH books. And, remember, this is the last book in the saga. I would strongly recommend reading the other three books first. Obviously, THE ULTIMATE PASSAGE will stand alone, but it would be even more enjoyable if readers read it last, as was intended.



Sandy said...

This book sounds terrific. Time travels are my favorite reads, so I'm looking forward to something new!

Jason said...

I've read this and its everything the review says and more (I like it and I hate romance lol). The reason it says "book two" on the cover is that its small press so its printed in two parts, but its actually the 4th book in a series if I remember correctly. It can be read independently but some of it will make more sense if you read them all.

Jean Hackensmith said...

Thank you for all the wonderful comments! I would love to hear from anyone who reads THE ULTIMATE PASSAGE, or the entire "Passage" Saga. You can contact me directly at You can also visit my website at



Pam P said...

Thanks for the clarification that the whole story is in the one book, Jean. I googled for your site earlier today to find out more about the series. I kind of want to get to that Scot first, lol, but it did seem like it would be better to read it all in order. Now to get them all and find time for a lenghty read, lol.

Happy Holidays!

anne said...

This unique book sounds fascinating and intriguing. Time travel is a favorite of mine and it would be wonderful to experience it once again within the pages of this special story.

tetewa said...

This sounds like a very unuque read, count me in!

Jean Hackensmith said...

Thanks Pam and Anne. I hope you both will enjoy The "Passage" Saga tremendously. Just to make things a little easier for everyone, the names of the books in the saga are "Charmed Passage," "Destined Passage", "Doomed Passage" and, of course, "The Ultimate Passage." And just a side note...the publisher is offering a $10.00 discount if you order the whole set. You can visit their website at

Thanks again!


Kimberly L said...

Great review. I love reading time travels. Please enter me.

Caffey said...

Oh I like this already!! So unique! I remember reading my first time travel and was so pulled into the story that I love when I find new authors that write them! I'd love to be in the contest! Thanks.

Caffey said...

Oops forgot to leave my email address, I was all excited. Its

Too I do know this publisher! I've haven't been there in a while so its great to find it again, thanks for the link.

Jean Hackensmith said...

Hi, Caffey and Kimberly. Thanks for the positive comments! Hopefully you'll both decide to pick up the first three books in the saga and read them so you're prepared if you win "The Ultimate Passage!" Be sure to let me know what you think if you do read the books.

sharon said...

I know that this novel is going to be the ultimate reading experience. Thaks for this opportunity and the great information.

Jean Hackensmith said...

Hi, Sharon:

Glad to see you're interested in reading THE ULTIMATE PASSAGE. Be sure to drop me a line when and if you do read the book. And don't forget, there are three others that come before it. To get the most out of ULTIMATE, you'll want to read those first.



Jean Hackensmith said...

Now Kathe and I have a question for all of you! We're just starting the plotting stage of a new time travel romance -- totally unrelated to The "Passage" Saga. This new book will be a stand alone. So, if you had the opportunity, what time and place in history would YOU travel to? In other words, what do you think would be an absolutely awesome location and time for a time travel romance? If we use your idea, we'll acknowledge your input in the acknowledgements section of the new book when its released, and you'll also receive a free copy BEFORE the release date. In other words, you'll get the book before anyone else does -- even before it hits book stores shelves. I'll need you to drop me a line at, though, so I have your email address and can notify you if we decide to use your idea.

windycindy said...

Wow! Time travel is always fun to read! I like movies where time travel is the plot! Thanks,Cindi

Jean Hackensmith said...

Thanks for the enthusiastic comment, Cindy. If you do read the saga, be sure to let me know what you think!