Time Rogues belongs in that dreaded category: “Good Idea, Not-So-Good Execution.” There are times when the story is strong enough to keep it interesting, but too often the annoying romance and confusing premise drag it down, making it much less than it could have been.
The book immediately gets off on the wrong step. As the prologue begins, three time travelers arrive in ancient Pompeii just before the infamous volcanic eruption. Maude is part of a group of Time Rogues who operate from the 22nd Century. Her companions are Dr. Mackenzie Cates and Dr. Rick Mason, two scientists from 2005. Their goal is to rescue a Time Rogue named Dak, whose presence in Pompeii will cause a rift in time.
This prologue is both confusing and pointless. The overload of information is too much to absorb and none of it is explained well enough to get a sense of who the Time Rogues are, what they do, and how any of this is accomplished. Plus, opening the book in the perspective of a character who’s neither the hero nor heroine, but who knows everything the main characters are going to spend much of the book learning, gives away too much. The first chapter then begins “one month earlier” (or a couple thousand years later) in 2005 before Mack and Rick even meet Maude. This isn’t one of those fascinating flashbacks where reading the ending first makes the reader wonder how everything came together in that particular moment because it provides far too much information. Rather than creating an air of intrigue, the reader is simply left waiting for Mack and Rick to find out everything we already know.
Anyway, in Chapter One, Mack prepares for a Pompeii exhibit at the Dallas Museum of History where she works, the centerpiece of which is a plaster cast of one of the Pompeii victims. The cast was made by Mack’s former lover, Rick Mason, an archaeologist working out of Pompeii. In fact, his relocation to Italy from Texas is what led to their breakup, and as far as breakups go, Mackenzie’s rationale seemed paper-thin to me:
“Sure, he’d sounded sincere when he bartered for a long-distance relationship, but she wasn’t going to fall for that line of bull twice. She’d been burned by a cheating boyfriend early on, solid proof in her mind that males equated fidelity with proximity. Maybe that was wrong and unjust, but Rick’s relocation to the land of Amore had demanded a leap of faith that she wouldn’t–couldn’t–make.
“At the first hint–a mere smidgen of a rumor–that linked Rick with one of those dark Italian lovelies, Mackenzie had dumped him flat out. No questions, no argument. It broke her heart, but she’d had to do it. Poop on his peachy promises, and to hell with all that white-hot, sweaty sex and unquenchable passion they’d shared. She hadn’t been about to waste her love and her life on a lying, faithless hunk.”
So, by page twelve, I’d already decided Mackenzie is a twit. First of all, “poop on his peachy promises”? That’s just a taste of some of the cheesy lines offered in this book. Second, she dumps him because of a “mere smidgen of a rumor” without bothering to talk to him? Nice. Then we learn that Mack married someone else on the rebound – someone who did cheat on her. Which made me laugh. That seemed like a case of her getting exactly what she deserved as far as I was concerned. Not nice, I know, but true.
Mack still has feelings for Rick, and she acts like an idiot whenever he’s around. The romance is very annoying at first, especially since this is one of those books with a supposedly smart woman who acts like a fool too much of the time. It doesn’t help that the author seriously overuses annoying dialogue tags like “cry” and “wail,” so it seems like Mack is often hysterical. A few examples:
|Page 34:|| “For tonight?” Mackenzie cried. “Oh my!”|
“Wait,” she cried. “You called and canceled, didn’t you?”
“Nooooo!” Mackenzie wailed.
|Page 45:||“You took the Pompeii museum job without consulting me, Rick,” she cried.|
“We can’t work together for six weeks! We’re barely able to stay cordial,” Mackenzie cried.
Much of the time it seemed to me that no sane person would “cry” such perfectly normal dialogue; my conclusion was that Mack seriously needed to get a grip. In any case, Mack sees the plaster cast move one day. For reasons too complicated to explain (and which I’m not sure I understood entirely), it’s not just a statue. It contains Dak’s life essence, which has been in limbo for so many years ever since he died in the eruption at Pompeii. Dak soon begins possessing Rick’s body to make Mack help him save himself. Rick and Mack don’t understand what’s going on, but the reader does, so we’re just waiting for them to catch up. Meanwhile, a strange woman named Maude starts hanging around the museum, which makes Mack jealous, but the reader knows all about her too.
The story gets a boost whenever the museum and/or their investigation is at the forefront because the characters actually behave like intelligent people. All the stuff about Pompeii is interesting, and there’s a subplot about a colleague at the museum who’s trying to sabotage Mack that’s effective. The story improves as it goes along; the romance becomes less annoying and though they aren’t explained very well, the Rogues are interesting. As far as Time Travel Romances go, it’s not bad, but the climax is very rushed and abrupt and the epilogue raised some troublesome issues that go unaddressed.
Time Rogues had potential, but lacked in the execution department. Many readers will give up by the time the characters stop being annoying, and because the story isn’t structured all that well and the romance is merely acceptable, I can’t recommend you try. I suspect the author has more stories about the Time Rogues in mind. Hopefully they turn out better than this one.