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.
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-