By Alexandra Monir
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.
Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.
Timeless is a pleasant surprise. It’s the Cinderella premise, or maybe The Princess Diaries — Michele grows up with her cool, creative mother, not in poverty but certainly not flush with money. She knows she’s from a rich family, the Windsors of New York City, but her mother has not spoken to her granparents since before Michele was born. Her mother suspects her parents paid the man she loved, Michele’s father, to leave her. Michele eventually ends up living with her grandparents, and in their house, she finds the answer to a mystery: Why has she always dreamed about the same blue-eyed young man, a man she seems to love in her dreams?
A mysterious key seems to help her go back in time and meet the young man, Phillip, along with some of her ancesters when they were young women. She visits the speakeasies of the Roaring Twenties and the hard times of World War II as she tries to find a way to be with Phillip. When she realizes that is impossible, she travels back in time to help him let go and live a good life without her.
The romance was a little thin. Romance novels too often rely on love at first sight (or dream, in this case) and a pair of beautiful blue eyes to justify a sweeping, soul-consuming love affair. This is no different. Phillip’s character is two-dimensional at best. Her teen-aged ancestors, on the other hand, are wonderful, interesting, strong young women. I wish authors would take the time to develop actual characters for their love interests.
The real love interest, and the saving grace of what would have been a boring book, is New York city. The author paints a vivid picture of the city, from the future through several eras of the past. The author’s descriptions of the history behind the scenes makes you want to go see the city, the houses, the parks, the theaters. In the end, the real love affair seemed to be between Michele and the city, and I loved it as well. The time-travel parts were great. The romance not so much. But still a good read.