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10 April 2009 @ 11:43 am
Daring Time by Beth Kery  
Publisher: Berkley 2009
Genre: Romance
Sub-genre: Erotica; Time travel; Mystery
Rating: 5 pints of blood PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket



I confess whenever I look at the suggestive brass bed in the background, all sorts of naughty things cross my mind. Unlike so many romance books, this one actually has a relevant cover: the brass bed is in the book, as is the hunky almost-naked man. Though, he does keep his head in the book...

Chicago cop Ryan Daire is gifted an empty old mansion by his university professor under somewhat strange circumstances. Inspecting the house with his partner Ramirez one night, Ryan is startled to see a beautiful woman in the ballroom – who vanishes. Upstairs, in the bedroom which contains only the frame for a brass bed and an old wardrobe with a gilt mirror on the inside of the door, he sees her again, in the mirror, wearing a flimsy scrap of a see-through nightie. It’s clear she sees him as well, and is startled, but she’s definitely not there in the room with him. Ramirez thinks he’s seeing a ghost, but Ryan’s sure she’s not. What she is, he doesn’t know.

More encounters with the mysterious, beautiful young woman within the mansion lead to a startling discovery: Ryan is seeing Hope Stillwater, who lived in the house with her minister father, Jacob, in the 1900s. As a cop, he accesses the archives and learns that Hope disappeared in 1906 and her mutilated body was found three days later. He’s determined to breach the mirror and go back to 1906 to save her – and explore the exploding chemistry and passion that has risen between them.

Beth Kery set a high standard with her excellent previous novel, Wicked Burn; with Daring Time, she’s proven she’s no one-hit wonder. If this is a taste of Kery to come, we’re in for a real treat. It’s a powerful, explosive novel of intensely erotic sexual hunger, cleverly constructed time travel, and two wonderfully developed and very real characters.

The city of Chicago in the 1900s came alive for me – I’ve never been, but I could feel and taste it even though Kery doesn’t overburden her prose with long descriptions. There’s a slightly gothic flavour to the story, especially the scenes within the mansion, as if the house is a character in and of itself.

Any book with time travel is prey to plot holes and loose threads when poorly handled. Beth Kery has deftly woven this tale with no holes in sight. It’s not a head-spinning read like The Time Traveler’s Wife, for example, so you don’t get lost in the shifts in time. Everything comes together at the end and the resolution is in perfect keeping with the characters and their time periods: a natural ending, not a forced one. Or should I say “beginning”, as it feels to me that Hope and Ryan are out there, living their life together and being true to themselves, at some point in time, so real did they seem to me.

Daring Time is a smooth blend of fantasy, crime and erotic romance that keeps you on your toes, breathless, with your heart in your mouth. Even though, as a romance, I’m confident it will have a happy ending, the suspense and tension and uncertainty is often so strong that suddenly nothing is obvious at all. A magical book. My only complaint is how long I’ll have to wait for Kery’s next book.