New Concepts Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-58608-991-9
Paranormal Romance, 2006
Isn’t The Other Side of Silence a lovely title? This is a time-travel romance where Roger Macleod, a prisoner about to be hanged in 1765, somehow finds himself in 2004. Our heroine Sunny O’Connell is another one of those time-travel romance heroines that has just divorced a husband who has since moved on to a new girlfriend. There must be a joke in here somewhere about moving on from the past by sleeping with a man from the past. I’m more distracted by the fact that our time-traveling hero has the surname Macleod, however.
Sunny meets Roger when Sunny’s ex, Scott, brings Roger along to help Sunny with a case of a broken-down vehicle. Roger offers to help Sunny paint the farmhouse she’s bought from Scott after their divorce and Sunny accepts, fully intending to pay him for his efforts of course. As Sunny and Roger become closer, this attracts the ire of Scott who begins to believe that he wants Sunny back.
The Other Side of Silence is a rather rare example of story in that where many paranormal romances nowadays are all about the love scenes and kinky stuff, this story focuses instead on the characters and their relationship. Therefore, Sunny and Roger have a thing here that is pretty convincing and well-developed. They are two nice people falling in love in such a sweet manner that I find myself thinking that it can’t happen to nicer people. Roger’s background is not developed much and there are no details provided on the events leading up to his hanging. However, such lack of details doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the story as the theme of this story is moving forward in life and I find the story most fitting in keeping with the theme. There are hardly any details provided for Sunny as well, come to think of it.
Roger also remains a question mark of sorts as this story is told exclusively from Sunny’s point of view. Which is to say, this story doesn’t have first-person narration but the story gets into Sunny’s head and only Sunny’s head. I know how she feels and what she thinks but I have zero insight into Roger’s thoughts and emotions. Nonetheless, author Celia Ashley makes Roger a nice guy who’s handy to have around the house and a nice guy to love and adore, so his lack of character development doesn’t bug me too much.
The circumstances leading up to Sunny’s divorce may be familiar in the romance genre but Sunny is a pretty real character. She has some leftover baggages from her divorce but she is smart enough to know a good man to love and more when she sees him. Even Scott seems like a real person rather than a cackling villain bent on making Sunny unhappy – he’s not likable and he’s definitely not a catch, but he’s unpleasant in a way that real life unpleasant people tend to be.
The Other Side of Silence is also an interesting story in that the time-travel aspect isn’t the focus of the plot. Roger isn’t concerned with going back to his time – why should he? – and he doesn’t even let Sunny know that he’s from the past. The time-travel aspect is just a way to introduce Roger as a man who wants a second chance in life and gets it in this current time with Sunny. Therefore, I admit that it feels odd that the author neglects to let me inside Roger’s head in this story since his need for a second chance in life is actually far more “bigger”, story-wise, than Sunny’s. Nonetheless, as much as a part of me wishes that this story have been much longer so that Ms Ashley could have developed Roger more, I have a really good time reading this one. The love story and the characters are surprisingly real given the length of the story and more space to improve their depths will only make this story so much better than it already is.