Monday, November 26, 2018

A Timeless Christmas by Alexis Stanton

This is my first book review for Hallmark Publishing and for this author. I’ve been looking forward to checking out their fiction.

Let’s begin with the summary:

Megan Turner is in love with the past. As a tour guide at a beautiful historic mansion, she tells visitors about its original owner, Charles Whitley. An inventor and businessman in the early 1900s, he rose from poverty to wealth…only to disappear without a trace.
Charles was always intrigued by the future. He just never expected to go there. But when he repairs a mysterious clock he bought on his travels, he’s transported to the twenty-first century, with his home decorated for Christmas and overrun by strangers.
Charles is determined to find a way back to his own era, especially when he learns about what happened after he left. But as Megan introduces him to the wonders of smartphones, pizza, and modern holiday traditions, they both feel a once-in-a-lifetime connection. Could it be that, somewhere in time, they belong together?

And now, my review:

I liked the premise for this story and the mansion location. I loved that it was set at Christmastime, when we can more readily accept a magical element. And I appreciated that this was published by a company that produces wholesome entertainment.

I was willing to suspend disbelief as I began this time-travel romance. But then there were some issues with the writing quality, especially the plot and the characterization. The hero too easily resigns himself to remaining in the future, which felt contrived for the sake of story. He doesn’t immediately try to get back, which would have been a logical longing (and goal) for him to have. Also, he’s selfish and unlikable. He doesn’t do anything noble, doesn’t take any steps in the first few chapters to help someone else or even consider someone else. I didn’t find him layered enough to see him as real or sympathetic. He came across as whiny and smug. Those elements would have been excusable if he’d been noble for even one moment in those opening chapters. Readers get that a character can be a mess in the beginning, and we hope for a satisfying character arc, showing how s/he changes. But we need one redeemable quality to help us care what happens to him/her so we keep reading.

So, I focused on the heroine’s journey. But her story line felt contrived as well. She too readily accepts his presence. She comes across as juvenile. I found her introspection telling, which meant I didn’t feel the emotions she felt. She wasn’t layered, so I couldn’t bond with her or relate with her. It felt contrived that she explained some elements of this future world to him, but not others. This read as author oversight. It’s logical that the hero would wonder about everything, rather than accepting most of it. The heroine believes he’s an actor, and she’s playing along. That premise wasn’t always adhered to, which felt contrived as well.

The premise here was promising, but the story didn’t hold my interest. I wanted to lose myself in it, but between the characters and the inexperienced writing, I couldn’t. 

All that said, I wish this author and publisher well. I’ll definitely try other books in the future as I enjoy Hallmark Christmas movies. 

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