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REVIEW:  A Stitch in Time by Amanda James

REVIEW: A Stitch in Time by Amanda James

A stitch in time saves nine …or does it?

Sarah Yates is a thirty-something history teacher, divorced, disillusioned and desperate to have more excitement in her life. Making all her dreams come true seems about as likely as climbing Everest in stilettos.

Then one evening the doorbell rings and the handsome and mysterious John Needler brings more excitement than Sarah could ever have imagined. John wants Sarah to go back in time …

Sarah is whisked from the Sheffield Blitz to the suffragette movement in London to the Old American West, trying to make sure people find their happy endings. The only question is, will she ever be able to find hers?

Dear Ms. James,

I decided to try “A Stitch in Time” because I have a sentimental fondness for time travel books having read a lot of them when I first got back into reading romance. The blurb intrigued me because of two things which seemed different from a standard TT: Sarah gets to go back to several different times/locales and it doesn’t appear that she stays in any of them or falls for anyone in them while she’s traveling there.

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There’s a chick lit-ish start with a fair to good looking heroine whom fate smacks upside the head. But good for her that she doesn’t wallow in self pity and has picked herself up, dusted herself off and got on with life by the time the main action of the story begins. She’s got her own place, a good job that she’s good at and has friends and neighbors who seem to care about her. Then comes what Sarah initially believes is “the breakdown night” (which is hysterically funny) – or is it? complete with a cute male “handler” who gives Sarah a bit of a guilt trip to entice her to join up.

The TT mechanics and info is a bit wobbly. Some things are known and others conveniently are not? Emails from the Powers that Be who are whom exactly? Updated reports get sent to John? I’m also still as curious as Sarah about her going back and changing things that will affect the present day “known” events. How are journeys back determined and why? How would the PtB know something didn’t happen/someone wasn’t born who needed to be? It got very confusing and this aspect of the story is the weakest. Then there’s the whole needles/handlers are mainly men while stitches/travelers are women because women are more emotional and intuitive. I can’t shake the feeling of being talked down to as a woman here. Then there’s the (albeit very nice) romance which takes a lot of effort to pull off. Sarah has to prove how much she truly loves John for the PtB to approve and allow it? Why does John not have to prove anything? Yes, John does end up doing something spectacular for Sarah but the initial weight of the “proof” being on Sarah annoyed me.

Sarah’s TT journeys are different and interesting. Yes, there’s a little info dumping going on here and there but it’s kept light and mainly to what is needed for the story rather than “gee whiz, I gotta include this!” stuff. It’s fun to watch her get her feet under her and get involved in each time period using her knowledge of history (yeah! for a smart heroine) and common sense. This is the true strength of the book.

So things were going well enough with both the TT “stitching” and the romantic relationship when the suddenly the fit hit the shan. Sarah goes overboard in her last mission, nearly FUing herself and then turns into a Dramatic Nellie over one of John’s past girlfriends. Now, I’m not saying that her initial reactions when she thought Josephine had returned were childish. Given Sarah’s past marriage and her reactions to how it broke up, she is right to guard her heart. But when she gets back from the last trip, she acts sulky and defensive until the true nature of what John endured for her and the risk she might have caused in the past are explained. Then John joins her in really going “off the chain” with Josephine. That whole section was a bad soap opera.

I still don’t like that the woman had to be the one to prove herself. It all seems too sexist. And while it was satisfying for the evil Josephine to get her marching papers, the manner in which they were shoved at her reached OTT territory for me. I wish the TT mechanics were a bit clearer from the beginning but can see that too much explanation might bog down the story and actually make things less believable. The time travel itself, ah that was the best part and what I most enjoyed. C-

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  Temping Is Hell by Cathy Yardley

REVIEW: Temping Is Hell by Cathy Yardley

Temping Is Hell Cathy Yardley

Dear Ms. Yardley:

While I liked the narrator’s voice and found some aspects of this story funny, the lack of movement in the plot and the overall mishmash of world building left me puzzled and deflated at the end.

Kate O’Hara is presented as this conflicting mass of extraordinary capabilities and super screw up. Despite having mad organizational skills, the ability to perceive order out of great disorder, and a terrific work ethic, Kate has floated from temporary job to temporary job. Her last stint was with her Uncle’s publishing firm which went under.

Kate gets a temp job at Fiendish Corporation where most of the temps and underlings either do nothing or tend to their Facebook farm. Fiendish Corp is run by Thomas Kestrel, a multi billionaire. Kestrel, like Kate, is presented as being one thing (super successful) and shown as the diametric opposite (he can accomplish nothing, his employees are huge screw offs, he has terrible judgment in people).

When Kate begins her temp job, she is targeted by Maggie who is in charge of the temps. What Maggie’s position really is, I’m not sure. I’m not even sure why there are temps at Fiendship Corp. There’s a lot I’m not sure about in this book. Kate is sent to the deepest bowels of the Fiendship Corp. where Thomas has a number of demons working to search for a symbol on a contract. The symbol denotes which souls have agreed to something from Thomas’ nemesis Cyril Roman.

In exchange for something for Thomas’ now dead fiancee, Thomas signed a soul contract with Cyril Roman. Thomas has one year in which to kill all Cyril’s signatories or Thomas’ soul belongs to Cyril. Normal humans can’t review the documents because staring at demon contracts will result of either demon possession or insanity. Yet Kate is somehow immune to this and through not so clever innovation (meaning, why did Thomas or no one else think of it) Kate speeds up the process.

Thomas is attracted to Kate, the first woman he’s really been attracted to since the death of his fiancee. I can see why. I liked Kate. She had no filter with her mouth but her frankness was refreshing and amusing. She’s smart and capable. Why she is considered a screw up by everyone in her horrible family, I’m not sure. Thomas is the hero of the story, I guess, but his bland character left me wishing that Kate would run off with the soft hearted demon she befriends in the basement.

There are other characters such as Kate’s best friend Prue who discovers some magic in her heritage that puts her at odds with Kate and Thomas’ hired general contractor of ridding oneself of demon possession/I’m not sure what else to label him. The latter believes that Thomas’ attraction is distracting him the goal of defeating Cyril.

When the book ends, there is no clear direction for the future. Thomas and Kate are in some kind of weird relationship. Kate’s powers are still yet unrevealed. We know little about the worldbuilding other than there are demons and that power is gained through a pyramid scheme – the more souls you sign up, the more powerful you are. It’s definitely book 1 of a series but will there be twelve books as we watch Thomas and Kate hunt down each signatory of Cyril’s? I’m not sure I’m up for many more of these no matter how much I enjoy Kate. C

Best regards,

Jane

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