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Friday, September 7, 2012

Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready

Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready
Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions
Genre: Contemporary, Time travel, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (368 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Two years after losing her husband, librarian Panna Kennedy battles budget cuts to distract herself from her grief. When she opens a long-locked door in the library, Panna finds herself transported to the magnificent, book-filled quarters of the handsome eighteenth-century English war hero whose larger-than-life statue looms over her desk.

However, Captain Bridgewater is not at all as she imagined. Under house arrest for betraying England, the dashing Bridgewater warms to his beautiful and unexpected visitor despite his belief she's been sent to gather information. He pulls her into his escape, and they share soul-baring secrets as well as a passionate kiss.

But when he gives her a message that must be delivered to his allies and she is swept into the shocking intrigue that takes them from Hadrian's Wall to a forbidding castle in Scotland, Panna must decide if her loyalties lie with the memory of her dead husband or the man whose life—and reputation—depend on her.

This change of pace time travel story takes the reader on a delicious, exciting adventure from twenty-first century America to eighteenth century England and Scotland near Hadrian’s Wall.

Panna Kennedy says, “Old librarians don’t retire, they just turn the page”. She truly does just that. Through a little closet door under the stairs in the library, she goes to the chapel of the opulent MacIver Castle on the English side of Hadrian’s Wall at a time when hostilities threaten to erupt at the drop of a hat. Her first glimpse of the owner of the castle, Capitan James Bridgewater, is a shock. He looks so much like the statue of the long ago benefactor of the library where she works in twenty-first century Carnegie, Pennsylvania. He pulls her like a magnet.

Two years after her beloved husband’s death, she still struggles to move on with her life. Now in the eighteenth century, she has major decisions, life-changing decisions to make. The reader gets to share in her pondering and in her narrow escapes as she makes her way through a maze of “what-ifs” and “must-dos” while she tries to stay alive in a society alien to her except for what she has read about it in romance novels.

James, born of a Scottish mother and English father, is an “outlander” to some and to others an “abomination”. Yet, his skills as an officer in the English army are respected enough that he is accepted on a certain level. His entrepreneurship in water pump business has made him a very wealthy man.

When James and Panna first meet, he has been beaten by soldiers and is under house arrest in his own castle. He thinks she is a whore the English have sent to him. They do snap at each other but soon find common interests in books and astronomy. Even a bit of humor creeps in as they talk of “the Butcher’s Cleaver” and the “surveying seat” in a bay window overlooking a vast area. When his nemesis, General Bridgewater, almost sees a secret message that would get James hanged for treason, Panna saves him by the skin of his teeth. They find themselves working as a team to stay alive.

The secondary characters are a little confusing as Panna arrives in the eighteenth century, but information begins to creep in to help sort them out. The loyal followers of James are his only true “family”. Clare, a burly man; Thomas, just a lad but invaluable; The Hillers, and many others add texture to the story that allows the reader to see the commoners’ plight in the year after years struggle for power that improvised and killed so many who long to just live in peace and get on with day to day living.

The antagonists, especially Viscount Adderly, bring personal conflicts to a fever pitch, While Hector MacIver, James’ Scottish grandfather, creates an even different kind of conflict. The subtly of his manipulation is unique and rather ambiguous. He seems to blow hot and cold.

Gwyn Cready’s attention-keeping Timeless Desire is chock full of special bits and pieces that make the story rich. Subtle foreshadowing gives the reader some great ‘ah-ha’ moments as events unfold, so the she has a feeling of being on the inside track. The sneaky ways of delivering messages, the sparkling touch of humor, the love scenes that wow, and remarkable descriptions and metaphors fill the reader’s senses.

The fast pace Ms. Cready set keeps the adrenaline pumping and the heart racing much of the time. Yet, there are times it slows as Panna struggles with strong emotions and difficult decisions and when James wrestles with his deep need to be acknowledged and loved by family that denies him. The reader feels the heart aching needs of Panna and James.

The life-like characters intrigue. Historical tidbits set the time and place perfectly so the story rings true. Best of all, Ms. Cready writes with a special touch of magic that makes the reader suspend disbelief and share in a love story that transcends time and transports the hero and heroine to a happy-ever-after where they are “loyal subjects of Marie Clare”—a place where James is not and never will be an “outlander”.

Timeless Desire is a captivating story—that is spine-tingling, heart-touching, and pulls the reader in to a thrilling adventure.