Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-4165-4115-8
Paranormal Romance, 2008
I think it must be some kind of cosmic rule that authors will portray themselves in the worst light possible in their fiction. We’ve seen romance authors writing about romance author heroines who are frigid and sexually neurotic as well as obsessed with a handsome and rich male editor. We have romance authors writing about how such heroines’ books are full of salacious sex scenes that turn readers on, as if they believe themselves that their stories are all about sex and nothing else. We also have seen romance authors claim through such stories that the handsome heroes are based on someone they know and secretly lust after, although I’m sure these same authors would be offended if we meet them in real life, look at their husbands, and then wink at these authors as we ask them, “So who is the hero really based on, hmm?” Some authors relish in letting readers know that their erotic romance author heroines conduct hands-on research for the sex scenes, when these authors would insist in real life that they really didn’t have sex with a mutant donkey-man as part of their research.
Tumbling through Time has an aspiring author heroine, which, in the tradition of the genre, means that heroine Persephone “Seph” Pyle is not someone you would want to depend on in times of great need. She has a crush on Tom Fraser, a colleague who doesn’t seem to return her creepy bug-eyed adoration unless he happens to be drunk (during the last office party), and she dislikes her boss. Therefore, in the book she is thinking of writing, Tom is the hero while her boss is the villain. A brand new pair of pink stilettos, purchased with the intention to let Seph forget for a while the fact that she is working closely alongside Tom in a business trip to Japan, ends up transporting Seph into the story she is thinking of writing – into the arms of Phillip Drummond who is of course a dead ringer of Tom.
Phillip is not a happy man. Due to Seph’s horrible lack of research on things like geography, his sea voyage is ridiculously unpredictable. Erratic weather plagues him, countries are showing up in the wrong places, and historical anachronisms are everywhere. Something has to be done… but what? Maybe when Seph shows up, things may be rectified for good. But things don’t turn out as they both hope, so eventually Seph finds herself back in the real life, dragging Tom back into her unwritten story to save Phillip from being hanged as a spy.
I have reread the previous two paragraphs several times and I have to say, if I hadn’t read the book, I’d probably be confused. That’s the problem of Gwyn Cready’s ambitious debut effort with Pocket – Tumbling through Time is a very conceptual story, with everything else, including the romance, relegated to the background. Even so, I find that I often have a hard time “seeing” what the author is trying to tell me in the story. It doesn’t help that I get this feeling that Gwyn Cready has written a book about herself writing a book about an author who gets to live out the story she is plotting in her head. Am I making sense here? Ms Cready loves Diana Gabaldon, Janet Evanovich, and Jane Austen. Gee, so does Seph, almost obsessively so. There are so many things about this story that have me thinking that this book is a vicarious escape for the author as much as it is for the reader.
Ultimately, reading this book requires too much effort with very little adequate pay-off. The romance is superficial and the happy ending is vague and the characters are designed to amuse more than anything else.