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Feature book: Overseas

12 September 2012

Overseas by Beatriz Williams

Overseas begins in Amiens, France in 1916 when Kate, the narrator of the story, waits outside the cathedral for Captain the Honourable Julian Laurence Ashford. She’s travelled from 2008 in a desperate attempt to save his life.

The story then shifts to December 2007 where Kate Wilson, investment banker, meets handsome British billionaire and hedge fund god, Julian Laurence. His interest in her baffles Kate somewhat—she doesn’t run in those elevated circles and she’s not a supermodel. But there is an instant and overwhelming connection between the two that even Julian’s mysterious secrets cannot break.

And Julian is mysterious. For the first third of the book, he’s hiding that he is the same Julian Ashford from 1916 (that’s not a spoiler—it’s on the back of the book!). The reader knows it, but Kate does not. Just about the time I was getting tired of it being a secret, Kate finds out and then the next third is about him being mysterious about his fears for Kate’s safety.

Julian is almost pathological about protecting Kate, going so far as to seclude her in Connecticut for the summer, away from New York. I knew that Kate must find out about the danger in some fashion—she has to have a reason for her desperation in 1916 and that, knowing those things she still chooses to go to 1916, desperately in love with Julian and trying to save him, which made me think that Julian actually had a good reason for his secrets and mysteries and alpha-jerk actions because, otherwise, I think I might have wondered if they were headed towards domestic abuse.

Interspersed throughout the 2007/08 narrative is the 48 hours Kate has to try and save Julian in 1916. Here, Julian is 21 and fresh faced, honourable, open and gorgeous. And Kate (for a change) is the one with all the secrets.

It is a time travel romance. Necessarily there is a certain circularity to the story: Julian loves Kate because Kate loves him in 1916. Kate loves Julian and goes back to 1916 because Julian loves Kate in 2007/08 (and then my head exploded). I could have wished that I had seen Julian falling in love more in 1916 but it was a little fast for me to truly, truly believe. Of course, it was far easier to see why Kate would fall for Julian—he’s gorgeous, rich and he’s fascinated by her—who wouldn’t get stars in their eyes? Much of the summer in Connecticut where Kate truly falls in love with Julian, was glossed over in a few paragraphs. Perhaps if there had been more exposition of this part, I would have been more convinced of the love between them. Unfortunately, the focus was more on Julian being mysterious and secretive and I was reserving my judgment on him a little because of it.

I can’t go into more detail about the crisis they have to deal with and what happens after because to do so would spoil the story. I am thinking about a re-read at some point to see whether I can pick up any extra clues now that I know what’s what.

It does all make sense in the end, although I did think the explanation for the time travel (such as it was) was on the thin side. Some of the events toward the end of the book seemed convoluted, which it kind of had to be to make the plot make sense and for things to resolve satisfactorily for an HEA. (It is a romance after all, the HEA is a requirement!). There were some things that didn’t quite gel for me—Geoff Warwick’s instant dislike, which was mostly told rather than shown, for example—but it may be that on further reflection the threads will pull together better for me. Certainly I have been thinking about it a lot since I finished the book and I’ve had a few ‘a-ha’ moments when things have suddenly become clear.

I’m a sucker for a time travel romance even though they usually do my head in. The author’s voice is fresh and enjoyable and I was totally caught up. I devoured this book in two evenings (including one very late night). It’s the kind of book you like to talk to other readers about as you connect all the dots and work out the significance of things that may or may not be innocuous. If you like time travel I think you will really like this book.

reviewed by Kaetrin

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All ARRA members who leave a comment will go in the draw to win the book. The giveaway closes on 3 October 2012.

8 Comments
  1. aimskye permalink
    17 September 2012 9:58 am

    Great review Kaetrin! I haven’t read any time travel, sounds slightly confusing! Glad you enjoyed it so much!

    Aimee

  2. 16 September 2012 12:44 am

    Hope I’m not intruding here! I just wanted to thank everyone for all the wonderful comments. Australia is so dear to me – my husband and I honeymooned there in 1997, and we loved every moment! I am absolutely thrilled to know that Overseas is being read and enjoyed where we spent such a happy time and met so many lovely people. Hope everyone has fun at the conference, and please do email or Facebook me with any questions about the book!

    Beatriz xo

  3. Fiery Na permalink
    13 September 2012 3:54 pm

    I would love to read this! I always enjoy time-travel stories and the war-time era appeals to me. The love story sounds really special.

  4. 13 September 2012 12:56 pm

    Thank you ladies. 🙂

  5. 13 September 2012 12:35 pm

    I love time travel novels and I have heard lots of good things about this one since it came out!

  6. Carol L. permalink
    12 September 2012 6:01 pm

    Don’t enter me as I already own the book. I just wanted to say it’s one of my favorite reads this year. An interesting and intriguing read I finished off in a day and night.🙂
    Love her voice. You’re going to love Kate and especially Julian.
    Carol L.

  7. 12 September 2012 5:01 pm

    Sounds like a great book. Love time travel romance. And I agree with Louise, a great review, Kaetrin.

  8. 12 September 2012 4:23 pm

    Ah a book that you can’t stop thinking about is the mark of a good writer. Well done Beatriz.
    Great review Kaetrin.

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