Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tamara Allen - Downtime

FBI agent Morgan Nash has a hard time believing that a magic spell has swept him into the past, especially considering that in his own time he was facing down a bullet. Now he's facing down a bunch of nineteenth century dabblers, whose ancient spellbook goes missing before they can send Morgan back where he belongs.
Chief among Morgan's new friends, Ezra Glacenbie is more than a little intrigued with his visitor from the future. The attraction between them is undeniable, but their growing relationship has more than a few roadblocks, including Ezra's disownment, the investigation of a serial killer, and a little family blackmail.
Finally, Morgan just decides it would be best to go back home, back to his own life and time, finding it too hard to believe in a love that came out of such extraordinary circumstances. When he gets home and looks into the past, though, he finds that he's left
Ezra just when the man needs him most. Can he get back to the past in time to save Ezra's life?

Comment: I've had this book a long time and after reading another book by the author back in March, I decided to try her again. I liked that first book by her I've read but it wasn't always a smooth read. I was curious to see if it was just a random experience with that book or if this is an author's trend. This book had been previously published under her pen name, James Allen.
Morgan Nash is the narrator of this story, an adventure he has by falling into a spell that a group of people do in 1888 by using a book and which brings him from the contemporary times. Morgan Nash is an FBI detective and he was working on a case when the spell happened. Then he sees himself in the 19th century, surrounded by an interesting group of people, including Ezra, an attractive man who says he can see and talk to ghosts.
But Morgan finds his way back in time because of the help of his new friends and at the same time he can't resist investigating Jack the Ripper and the murders that made that man a celebrity. However, Morgan's time in the past is limited... will he have any reason at all to stay or should he just find the book so he can go home? 
Ok, so there are some things that didn't feel very well done in this story. But overall, I have to say the author's writing style is rather particular. I thought maybe it was that other book that was told that way, but I can see now this the author's identity on the page. The author's style is slow, very slow and very rich in terms of detail and situations. I don't think the problem is how long things take to happen, and honestly I'm a fan of things taking their time, especially when it comes to the romance parts.
The problem is how everything takes a bit too long and drags on almost forever in a way I have to say is slightly boring... I can appreciate the level of detail, the amount of time it took for things to come together in a precise and organized way but it wasn't always engaging.
One of the things I felt weren't particularly well done is the way the plot works. Here we have a contemporary man, savvy and willing to take risks, which obviously means he rather accepts this new adventure very well despite the huge amount of issues one could point out about being in a different era and unwillingly. This is not a time travel story where the people participating know what will happen or expecting it to work, this is a man caught by surprise. Would everyone just wait to get home and comfortably would explore everything and murders in particular? I get the idea, the way Morgan's character is supposed to act, but I though it strange that in such a long novel, he never really seemed worried about going back.
Then his focus is mainly on catching killers and dealing with crime situations! I mean, sure he's very focused on his work, he can't turn off his investigator's mind, but if he's in a different place and time, with different tools and ways of dealing with everything he's familiar with, can he really be that relaxed?
Another situation I felt was key to like this book - which put a stop to my enjoyment - was how long it took the romance to develop. I know the author does this all the time, it's her trademark style, but a bit more sexual tension, a little less subtlety would have made their relationship more easy to root for, the focus definitely isn't on that and I think the rest of the story gained an importance I felt wasn't as important.
The good thing a bout a slow paced novel is we have a long time to understand the characters, their motivations and the things that shape them. I liked Ezra, he was a sweet man with talents and a inner self I really liked.
I feel sorry we got Morgan as narrator because we got to know him a lot more, obviously, but at some parts his attitude annoyed me, he got on my nerves in his attempts to solve a mystery instead of solving his own predicament! And can one really have the nerve to doubt a man who sees ghost after traveling on time?
As a couple they were ok, I never felt their connection, despite how long it took, and the HEA was sweet and unlikely and slightly weird if we put ourselves in his shoes, but I was never fully convinced their relationship was that strong. I didn't see enough of it and what I did see wasn't always in a convincing manner.
All in all, this is a very well researched book, many amazing elements, good historicals details, but in terms of plot and character's personalities felt flat for me. After the first 300 pages I was already ready for it to end. I think this doesn't mean it's not a good book, and I like long, slow paced books, but this one in particular didn't win me over, that's all.
Grade: 5/10

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