I always like a good time-travel romance. My only question: Where are they? A good time-travel, indeed any paranormal, requires a certain level of depth to the story in order to avoid having the metaphysical elements come across as too simplistic. Time-travel – especially in romance novels – is a fascinating concept but, in order for it to be believable, the story has to have a magic that draws the reader in. When I read a time-travel, I want to be able to buy into the time-travel so much so that it almost becomes unobtrusive. In The Impostor, I found myself wondering why the author even bothered with time-travel – it could have been written as an historical romance. Had author Fox done so, it would have been a better book.
As he travels back to England for the wedding of a childhood friend (who has grown into a buffoon by the way), Flynn Patrick, begins to feel in inexplicable connection with the countryside surrounding Merestun, an area of England that he allegedly knew as a child. A successful journalist and speechwriter, Flynn has always felt something of a changeling. A senator and his wife in America adopted him at a young age but this part of the story remains kind of blurry. During the wedding festivities, Flynn feels a need for the proverbial breath of fresh air and goes outside and sits by a small pond, which seems to have a magic stone in it. Somehow, he falls backward into the pond and backward in time to the year 1815.
Melisande St. Claire is on the eve of her betrothal ball to the wealthy but repulsive Duke of Bellhingham who also happens to be the heir to the earldom of Merestun – the real heir to the Merestun title and fortunes disappeared mysteriously many years ago. Melisande, a product of her time but also something of a forward thinker and a free spirit, is resigned to her fate but she has been having disturbing dreams of a very handsome gentleman. When she abandons all caution and leaves via the window to avoid a fate she deems worse than death, she runs smack into Flynn Patrick, the man in her dreams. Certain events conspire against them and they are forced to travel the English countryside unchaperoned, an unconscionable sin in 19th Century England. They arrive in England and head for Melisande’s aunt’s house. By this time however, their adventure is out of the bag and common knowledge. They are “forced” to wed in order to save Melisande’s reputation and also the reputation of Melisande’s younger sister who would be deemed guilty by association.
Their love story is somewhat fetching but both characters, Flynn in particular, have some bothersome character glitches. Flynn comes across as flaky and yet strong and capable at the same time while Melisande is the queen of purple prose. I don’t generally like time-travels in which the man travels back in time but in this case it is the only way to stomach the age difference between Flynn and Melisande. He is thirty-three and she is nineteen. In 19th Century England, this is believable but that it didn’t bother Flynn more was unnerving. In truth, he was a changeling. He was the missing heir to the earldom and never really belonged in the 20th Century in the first place. However, after living part of his life in the 20th Century, I couldn’t understand how he could even think of having a relationship – let alone getting married to – a nineteen year old girl.
Flynn was alternately a nice guy and weasel. For instance, after their wedding night, he tells Melisande that if he can, he has to get back to the 20th Century – love ‘em and leave ‘em Flynn!! Although a common plot device in romance novels, this didn’t fit Flynn’s feelings. From the moment he returned to the 19th Century, Flynn felt an overwhelming sense of peace and connection that had been lacking in his previous life. Why would he want to go back to 1998? Indeed, why the time travel at all?
Flynn’s mysterious origins were never well developed and the methods used to get the reader to understand who he was seemed haphazard. He ends up in London with Melisande and meets her aunt who suspects that Flynn is the missing heir. She immediately sends a missive off to the now old and decrepit Lord of Merestun who just happens to be Flynn’s real father. It was the magic stone in the pond that did it apparently. As a youngster, Flynn was out playing and trying to find something. He disappeared into the pond and was never seen again. That magic stone in the pond sent him back to the 19th Century where he belonged but where was the build-up? I felt like I needed more of an explanation as to why the time-travel was necessary. It may have been because his life was in danger from his cousin who coveted the title, but this is never well explained.
My overwhelming reaction to this book is that it was too simple, the ending too pat. All the pieces got put back together too nicely and too neatly. The time-travel at times almost seemed like an after-thought even though it was the focus of the book.