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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Overseas by Beatriz Williams

Overseas by Beatriz Williams
G.P. Putnam's Sons
ISBN: 978-0399157646
Published May 2012
Trade paperback, 464 pages

After reading a few rave reviews, I was excited to dig into this novel. It has all the elements I love in a story—time travel, historical fiction, suspense and romance. I was hooked as I started reading the first atmospheric scene which takes place in the early morning shadows in France during WWI, until I got to page 6 and was jolted back to the present where f-bombs began raining down so hard I didn't know where to run for cover. After chapter two, I stopped counting. Some of the characters used the f-word in almost every sentence. C'mon, was that really necessary? I can easily skim over a few f-words, but this was excessive. Thus began my struggle with this book. Apart from the profanity, I had a few other issues with the story.

Kate Wilson is a Wall Street analyst who meets the dashing British billionaire Julian Laurence at a business meeting. He is attracted to her, falling in love with her almost instantly. This baffles Kate until she discovers that he is actually Julian Ashford, a celebrated war poet and infantry officer who mysteriously time-travelled from France of 1916, where he supposedly died at war. But Julian is keeping a dangerous secret from the past from Kate and is overprotective of her, until it all comes to a head and Kate believes she must travel back to the past to save him.

The premise is wonderful, with a love that transcends time and space, and actions that Julian and Kate take to keep it alive when there are factors that threaten their very existence. The problem is that the danger or threat was never too real to me because the secondary characters were underdeveloped and overshadowed by the romance. Yes, the romance. I felt like I was reading a Harlequin romance novel where the hero and heroine just can't get enough of each other and every scene is permeated with kissing and sex talk. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy romance as much as the next girl, and I loved Julian's old-fashioned chivalry, but if the editors would have cut 100 pages and reduced it to 350 pages, I think it would have been less romance-laden and felt more like I was reading fiction published by Penguin. It is said that less is more. And it certainly would have made their timeless love more powerful rather than cloying at times.

Williams is a good writer, though, and one could easily mark the difference between the modern men and their speech versus Julian and his poetic expressions of love to Kate. The story alternates between the past and the present, a technique which really worked for this story. It initially builds the suspense, but then midway it lags in the present and finally merges with the past toward the end. I would have liked more scenes in the past (they were the ones I enjoyed the most) and more on Kate's impressions with being hurtled back to France during WWI. The whole time travel aspect was okay, but I feel it could have been explored a little more.

I had high expectations for this book, and I was disappointed. I felt the story could have been so much more, with a better developed plot. However, I know that there are other bloggers who loved it, so you may want to check out their reviews as well.

Note: This book is rated P = profanity for lots of f-words and religious expletives. Rated S for sexual content and sex scenes.
I will count this book toward the following challenges: Time Travel Reading Challenge

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to Penguin Canada for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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