Review: The Girl Who Stepped Into the Past by Sophie Barnes + Giveaway

Review: The Girl Who Stepped Into the Past by Sophie Barnes + GiveawayThe Girl Who Stepped Into The Past by Sophie Barnes
Format: ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: time travel romance
Pages: 256
Published by Sophie Barnes on June 5, 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository

She was looking for inspiration…

When historical romance author Jane Edwards goes to England on a research trip, she doesn’t expect to travel two hundred years into the past. She also doesn’t expect to be accused of murdering the Earl of Camden’s sister. Presented with few choices, Jane decides the best course of action is to help Camden find the real killer. But the more time she spends in his company, the more she falls for the dashing earl, and the more she hopes for a life with him by her side.

And found love in the most impossible place.

James Sullivan, Earl of Camden, is convinced Jane had something to do with his sister’s murder. Until he learns she lacked the ability to accomplish the feat. Still, her explanation about stopping by his home in the middle of a rainstorm to seek employment, doesn’t add up. And yet, when he offers her the position she supposedly seeks, he discovers the smart resourceful woman she is. Which makes him wonder if marrying his new maid, might be worth the risk of scandal.

My Review:

It’s a tale as old as time – or at least as old as the concept of time travel. The premise will sound familiar to anyone who has read any time travel romances. The details change a bit. In this particular version of this old tale, a woman who is looking for a fresh start after the end of a relationship falls in love with a man in a portrait. When the thunder booms and the lightning cracks, she finds herself back at the period of that portrait, face to face with the man of her dreams.

When the trope is as tried and true as this one, whether a particular variation of it stands out from the crowd lies with the execution – because we know how it’s going to end. Somehow there’s going to be an HEA, whether in the past or the present. Or it’s going to be a tragedy, but romance writers generally don’t go there. Readers love their HEAs after all.

Although the beginning of this one reminded me particularly of Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready, in the end it mostly recalled The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl by Gina Lamm. Both of those stories were a lot of fun, and The Girl Who Stepped Into the Past is as well.

Jane Edwards doesn’t merely find herself in the Regency period that she has studied long and hard as part of her research for her own series of historical romance novels, she finds herself standing over a dead body in the middle of a unsolved murder. A murder that was never solved, so she does not have any future knowledge about who done it.

In an era where circumstantial evidence ruled, her position is rather damning. The Earl of Camden, the man that Jane has fallen for via his portrait, is certain that Jane must have just killed his sister. Jane has her work cut out for her, not only proving her innocence but also explaining her sudden presence in the middle of the English countryside.

Jane turns out to be more than up to the task. But involving herself in the life and household of James Sullivan, Earl of Camden, causes her no end of problems, as one might expect. The two bond over their investigation into his sister’s death, in spite of Jane’s rather unconventional appearance and manners.

Jane begins to realize that James is the man she has been looking for all of her life. But falling in love has its own risks. Will he believe her strange story? Is he willing to be shunned by society to marry a woman who at best seems to be an American adventuress? And is Jane willing to give up the safety, convenience, freedom and loneliness of the 21st century for life with the man she loves in a world that will otherwise never accept her?

And will solving the murder change history too much to make any of their wishes even remotely possible?

Escape Rating B: This is a fun little story. I enjoyed reading it but it doesn’t rise above some of the truly great time travel stories like Outlander and The Jane Austen Project. And there are plenty of nods to Jane Austen herself in this story.

Jane Edwards, our heroine, is a lucky woman. By the time she tells him, James manages to believe her story, as outlandish as it seems. He believes, perhaps, just a bit too easily. I considered it all part of the handwavium of time travel and didn’t let it bother me too much.

Jane does have an awfully easy time figuring out who killed James’ sister. To the point where the reader may be surprised that she was a Regency romance author and not a mystery author! But it is all in good fun, at least fun for anyone not the victim or the perpetrator.

The heart of the story is the romance between Jane and James. While they fall in love rather quickly, the dilemma they face is the one that tears at the heart. She might be able to go back. It will be difficult for a 21st century woman to live with the restrictions imposed on women in the 19th century. If she stays so they can marry, James will be shunned by his peers for the rest of his life, and that shunning may also fall on any children they have. They have to be willing to give up a great deal in order to be together. What we feel for, in the end, is the internal conflict they each have to resolve and their ultimate willingness to be all to each other, and to hell with what the rest of the world thinks.

And that’s a hard thing to do under any circumstances, time travel or no time travel. By the time they reach that ultimate decision, we are right there with them.


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Review: The Astronaut’s Princess by Lisa Medley + Giveaway

Review: The Astronaut’s Princess by Lisa Medley + GiveawayThe Astronaut's Princess by Lisa Medley
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: science fiction romance, time travel romance
Series: Cosmic Cowboys #2
Pages: 111
Published by Big Cedar on February 16th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazon

Astronauts, Aliens, and Apaches? What could possibly go wrong?

Working for a billionaire space entrepreneur has its perks: a nice paycheck, free room and board, and all the space flight hours a guy could want. But everything has a price. Astronaut Noah Wright has survived an alien attack, time travel and a wormhole, but the Apache princess he brought back through time may be the death of him.

Ela, only daughter of Chief Itza-Chu of the Mescalero Apaches, finds herself out of place and out of time. Everything she knows of her early 1800's life has vanished. Her savior and protector, Noah, is kind, but he’s not her family and certainly not Apache. Her only wish is to get home, but returning through the wormhole that brought her to the future threatens more than her past, causing her to have to rediscover what home really is.

My Review:

space cowboys and indians by lisa medleyWhen I reviewed the first story in Lisa Medley’s Cosmic Cowboys series last summer, I said that she had done serial novels right. Space Cowboys & Indians had a proper beginning, middle and end for that story, while still setting up the action for this next book in the series, The Astronaut’s Princess.

While the mechanics of the time travel in the first book still read like a whole lot of handwavium (time travel always does) the results have very real-seeming impacts on all the people involved. And possibly on the whole damn planet.

And just as she did with Space Cowboys & Indians, the story in The Astronaut’s Princess wraps up its arc while still dropping plenty of hints about the trajectory of a possible book 3.

Space Cowboys & Indians was the journey. The Astronaut’s Princess is all about what happens when our time and space traveling cowboys return to 21st century Earth – with a passenger. They made a  deal  in the 1800s to bring the daughter of the Apache chief back to their time to heal her fatal case of the measles in order to have the tribe’s help in defeating the aliens and stealing their ship.

The Apache princess, Ela, is none too happy at waking up in the 21st century. And she has no qualms about generating as many temper tantrums as it takes to get those astronauts to take her back to her tribe. She also doesn’t have the language skills to understand that it can’t be done.

Instead she breaks her room in the medical facility and screams at the top of her lungs for Noah Wright, the astronaut who has tried his best to help her and care for her – even though she drives him crazy. He’s unwilling to admit to himself that it might just be more than one kind of crazy.

Noah has a lot on his plate. While the alien ship and the asteroid’s minerals made him and his two fellow astronauts Tessa and Cole rich, it’s working on the Space X development that makes him happy, at least some of the time. This is his chance to be an astronaut, and he’s not letting it go.

But the owner of the project, Duncan Janson, wants to reopen the wormhole that led to the 1800s. And he’s building a space hotel tethered to the moon. And he’s got some kind of “in” with the federal government. More importantly, he’s willing to cut through all kinds of legal, ethical and safety concerns to see all of his dreams of space avarice come true.

When Noah’s attempt to re-settle Ela with the local Apache tribe turn up evidence that the time travel trip and the aliens they battled have had an effect on the local tribe and on history, Noah finds himself heading back into space with a lot on his mind – and a stowaway in his ship. It isn’t until Ela returns to space that she finally realizes that she can’t go home again – but that she can make a home with Noah in the 21st century, if he’ll just give in to what they both feel.

And if Janson’s attempt to open the wormhole don’t end up swallowing Earth into a black hole leading to oblivion.

Escape Rating B: Both Space Cowboys & Indians and The Astronaut’s Princess are short little novellas. If you want something fun to read but don’t want to get caught up in a three hundred (or three thousand) page marathon, these are nice, bite-sized science fiction romance treats.

Also, and unlike so many parts of serial novels, both stories are complete in themselves while still furthering the arc of the book-as-a-whole. While I don’t mind well-done cliffhangers, I hate it when books feel like middle chapters of something and both the beginning and ending are elsewhere. That is definitely not the case here.

It took a little while for me to get into The Astronaut’s Princess. While I love the concept of being brought forward in time (Star Trek IV anyone?) the story dwelled a bit too much on Ela’s tantrums, helplessness and unwillingness to at least investigate her new circumstances. She comes off as much more childish, or much more self-absorbed and self-centered, than I liked. While that may be realistic for her situation, I didn’t enjoy reading about it.

But once the action gets going in this story, it really gets going. Not just because I loved the shoutouts to Roswell and all the myths about Area 51, but because the action switched from slow to non-stop, and the imminent danger kept me on the edge of my seat.

It also firmly established that billionaire Janson may cause more evil than an alien invasion in the future. And I can’t wait to see what happens.


The Astronaut's Princess Button 300 x 225

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