Dear Ms. Inman,
For me, time travel books have to strike a delicate balance. I’ve read enough of them that I get bored with warrior heroes who travel to their future and feel the need to protect the heroine from her microwave or characters who travel to their past and think nothing of using modern slang or babbling about said microwaves. I think you’ve done an excellent job fitting Kyle into the past. His speech patterns are just enough off without seeming awkward while his behavior hints at who he really is without making him stand out like a sore thumb. He’s very careful to try and fit in with his current surroundings and hyper aware that he can’t do or say anything to risk the future.
When I read the blurb for Perfect Timing, I worried about the idea of Kyle moving in with Rachel while he studied her life and wrote a biographical report on her. If you had made Rachel allow him that intimately into her life too quickly or with too little thought, the book would have been a goner for me. Instead I was quite pleased that Rachel takes her time with the idea and needs a bit of convincing.
You give Rachel issues from her childhood but don’t let them bog her down. You also surround her with loving and supportive friends. I especially enjoy watching her at her job as a children’s librarian. It’s something she loves and is good at and you seem to have spent a lot of time making the descriptions realistic. They fall in love slowly and their relationship is about more than just the physical aspect of love. I do feel that they are in love and not just lust.
So, why did I grade down? Well, Kyle was just too perfect. Caring, tender, protective, a great cook and he can do automotive repair. The man has no faults. After a while, he started to seem like some kind of plastic person. And if Kyle has no faults, you give Rachel too many in their relationship. She gets snippy and huffy with Kyle and tends to act a bit childishly. I would have appreciated more even handedness here. And her actions in one subplot had me shaking my head in disbelief. Yes, I could see her point that soon Kyle would be gone and she would have only herself to rely on but really, that much denial can get a person killed. I honestly can’t see a modern woman being stalked that way and refusing to do anything about it. I mean, she balks at even reporting the chain of incidents to the police then gets defensive when Kyle gets angry with her about it. You keep telling us readers how intelligent Rachel is but about this, she isn’t.
Niggles: Was it ever explained exactly what was done with the reports that the students at the Institute compiled? Was it to teach them to observe, to work on their organizational skills, their people skills? What? Wouldn’t subjects want to know more about where such an in depth study of them was going to end up? In this current age of identity theft, I sure as hell would. That part of the plot just didn’t add up in the end. And how could such a place as the Institute have been developed and implemented only 70 years into the future? Since Kyle is over 30 and he joined the school as a child, that would mean that it was developed in only about 40 years. And one last thing. When Rachel’s cat goes missing, what does she do? She prints some flyers and puts them up around town then goes home to sit and wait. Does she ever once go out and beat through the bushes, even around her own house? Talk to neighbors? Walk the neighborhood calling for Pumpkin? Nope. None of these. Come on. I’ve done more than this when neighborhood pets around me have gotten loose.
Readers looking for a character centered story which slowly builds up emotionally might want to check this one out. While it does avoid lots of romance pitfalls, there were still too many niggles for me to grade it higher than a B-.