I’ve been using the 12 in 2012 Reading Challenge on the Potpourri Board to encourage me to clear off my TBR pile and to read new to me sub-genres. Lovers lost in time is not exactly new to me, but it is a sub-genre I don’t read very often. I’m glad I picked it for this round as I would have hated to miss this great book.
Wall Street doesn’t typically recruit out of the University of Wisconsin but they made an exception for analyst Kate Wilson. She’s shining her way through an internship when she is screwed over by a colleague and bounced out of a meeting with hedge fund god Julian Laurence. No matter, Julian finds her at her cubicle, seemingly delighted to run into her once more. But Kate doesn’t remember running into him before. Slowly, the two begin to build a relationship complete with stops, starts, kisses, and rescues in the dark of night. Kate is delighted with Julian, whom she feels like she knows while simultaneously realizing she barely knows him at all. But there’s a reason for her seeming familiarity
Julian Laurence Ashford is stepping out of church when a strange woman approaches him, acting as though the two are close friends, but he has never seen her before in his life. Things are a bit tense in 1916 France, a natural result of the war. As officers, Julian and his friends can’t help but wonder if Kate is a spy or the innocent, bewildered young woman she appears to be. Then Kate is thoroughly ill and Julian, intrigued and sympathetic throws caution to the wind to care for her. Slowly, the two begin to build a relationship. But all is not as it seems – about Kate, about Julian and about history itself.
This novel is not your typical “heroine dumped in the past” story or “hero moved to the future”. For a large chunk of the book, we are unsure of exactly what has happened. Is it past lives? Time travel? Where are they meant to be – France or the US? When are they meant to be – then or now? The mystery is part of what keeps us turning the pages and I don’t want to spoil that for you. It does have one aspect that is familiar and that is the fated lovers concept. Whatever else is happening we know that Julian and Kate are important to each other. They know from first glance, whatever time they are in, that they are important to each other too.
In some ways (and I am probably the only person in the world drawing this conclusion) this book reminded me of Twilight. Like Edward, Julian is rich, brilliant, successful at everything he tries and a talented pianist. He is a fierce protector of his heroine, pursuing with a vengeance anyone who so much as looks cross eyed at her. Since Kate seems to draw trouble like a magnet, Julian has lots of opportunity to prove his devotion. I did like that the novel showed Julian having to spend time to do this. His every moment is not devoted to Kate – he works a great deal and spends time on figuring out who their enemies are. Julian is also a poet and soldier during his WWI existence. In both times, we get a strong sense of duty and devotion from him. Once Julian sets himself on a course, he does not steer from it.
I also liked how Julian was shaped by both times he was in. it’s hard to speak of without giving away spoilers, but he is that rare modern man with old fashioned manners and charm. Kate is very much a person of this century whatever time she is in, but Julian fits in both worlds easily.
Before Julian entered her life, Kate was a young woman on the verge of great things. She has worked hard to both get to Wall Street and make it there. She has a bit of an artsy side – for exercise, she does ballet as well as running. She’s close to her family and has a great friend in fellow Wall Street intern Charlie. Yet we don’t get to see much of that young woman once Julian enters her life. Part of the reason is that there is a problem with her job involving the nasty colleague who got her bounced out of the initial meeting with Julian. But to me that is not all of it – in many ways she becomes all about being with him. She is awed by him – who he was and who he has become. She is a much, much more independent person yet just like there is a touch of Edward in Julian there is a touch of the love struck Bella in Kate. Since millions loved Twilight I don’t think that will necessarily be a problem. Also, this is an adult novel and both characters are very much grown-ups. And there are no vampires or werewolves! There is simply a slight similarity in how their love story progresses and in the nature of the two leads.
Both have been in other relationships and know what they are looking for in a serious love. As a couple, they bring a nice sense of balance to each other. Kate is calmer, driven but not with the intensity that consumes Julian. She has duty and devotion but she tempers them with logic and reason. Julian has a passion in his love that brings that dormant emotion out in Kate. They compliment each other nicely.
The book’s main flaws are that it was a bit long and the villains are a bit melodramatic. I didn’t buy the motivation of either evil person. I also struggled a bit with the solution to the time mystery. The author would have done better to leave us guessing or provide a more scientific answer.
Though this was not a factor that affected my grade, I have heard this compared to The Time Traveler’s Wife. They are two very, very different novels. The only thing they had in common was movement through time. If you pick this up expecting that, you will be disappointed I think. Sometimes I wonder if the people in charge of marketing ever read the book.
Even with those quibbles I still enjoyed the book. I would recommend to fans who love these stories about lovers lost in time.