Ms. Merrow is one of my favorite authors, so every time she has a new book out I do a tiny happy-dance. I admit, though, that I prefer her straight contemporaries over her PNR’s, so I was just a bit apprehensive about this one. But I ended up enjoying it a lot.
Ted is a widower whose husband and parents died in a car accident over a year ago. He works as assistant in a small theater in London and deals with his grief as best he can, but mostly by ignoring it. One night during the show he goes out for a smoke break and finds himself in Victorian London. He meets a rent boy named Jem, they have a sexual encounter and when he goes back to the theater he realizes he’s back in the present. At first he thinks he was hallucinating, but he can’t stop thinking about Jem, so the next night he goes out again in the middle of the show, and finds himself, once again, in the past. Ted and Jem develop a relationship, but is there any hope for them? Of course there is, this is a romance, after all, but it’s a very clever resolution.
This was such a sweet, charming story. It’s a novella, so there’s no time for the characters to do nothing but adapt very quickly to the time travel, but they feel honest enough for me to accept them without nitpicking even if their reactions aren't realistic. Trick of Time is one of those stories that challenge the reader’s suspension of disbelief and that should be treated as a fun fantasy, or as a love story with a very unusual setting that perhaps won’t hold up to close inspection, but it’s engaging and interesting nonetheless.
Ted was a very effective narrator that perfectly conveyed the loneliness and devastation of such a terrible loss without being overly dramatic or angsty, and the memory of the dead spouse wasn't intrusive. He was also open, willing and yes, maybe a bit desperate to be with Jem, who was also willing, open and desperate to be with Ted. Theirs was a lovely romance in an epic setting that managed to feel intimate and understated. And the resolution was clever, satisfactory, and it made sense to the small world-building and simple rules of the book.
It’s a short story that takes little time investment, but it’s emotional, sweet, engaging and romantic. Ms. Merrow has a beautiful voice, and I thoroughly recommend her books. Trick of Time would be a great place to start.
Review by Brie
A lover from another time
When Ted Ennis steps out the doors of the Criterion Theatre for a cigarette and finds himself in Victorian London, he begins to doubt his sanity. At first he thinks it's all a film set, and is sure that the strikingly handsome young man leaning against a lamppost must be the leading man…
What starts as a sordid transaction with a beautiful rent boy quickly turns into something much deeper, drawing him back again and again as he gets to know Jem and craves meaningful encounters with him.
But Ted doesn't understand the exact conditions necessary for his trips through time—and for Jem, time may actually be running out. Now Ted has one last shot to get back to Jem and save their relationship, before it's too late…
Trick of Time by JL Merrow.
Carina Press. January 28, 2013