Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review: From Now On by Susan Royal

I received a copy from the author, who is also my writer pal, but since my Smashwords account won't let me review it unless I purchased the book from them (silly Smashwords), I'm putting my review here.


From Now On picks up where the first book Not Long Ago left off. Erin's happy ending is quickly shattered, when the knight for whom she traveled forwards in time and backwards in customs is ordered away on a dangerous mission. When Sir Griffin doesn't return, Erin suspects this mysterious assignment was a deliberate punishment by The-Powers-That-Be for her dalliance with time travel, and she embarks on a mission of her own to rescue her beloved from an anomalous isle.

The adventure reunites Erin with an old favorite, Arvo, the charming tailor with a big appetite, loose lips, and a kind heart. I was pleased to see him and several other returning characters further developed in their own rights, and how they now interacted with Erin the lady instead of 'Aaron' the squire. Most are loyal and welcoming, some have their reservations, and, as mentioned, others appear to be out to ruin her happiness. It was surprising to see the main love interest, Sir Griffin--himself a major character in the last book-- hardly featured at all in this book. Surprising, as it turns out, in a good way. Not only does his peril lead to astonishing revelations regarding time travel in the universe of this series, it gives all the other characters, new and old, room to grow and shine (and have romances of their own.) We're especially given a chance to see Erin take the lead and to see how she handles all the challenges that go with that, which she does in a believable and well-rounded way. She's strong-willed but listens when necessary, a woman of her time but diplomatic about the differences in this future, she's willing to fight for what she wants and she's compassionate to a fault.

I'm finding with this author the character renderings and imaginative world-building and lore to be the strongest parts of the book. The plot didn't quite suck me in until the major twist, and if, like me, you're lukewarm on long journeys punctuated with inexplicable happenings, the requisite trekking and paranormal-ish asides will seem to drag the pace somewhat (and, to me, seemed too reminiscent of Royal's other unrelated book, In My Own Shadow.) But the overall read wasn't very long once I got into it, and the pace picked up nicely halfway through.
For all the travails leading up to it, the resolution seemed a mite condensed. It tied up all the plots and character threads strung throughout the story, leaving just enough to tease more tales from this world, but I felt like there wasn't enough time for certain important events to really resonate emotionally.

It's hard to categorize a story featuring advanced technology, knights and fair ladies, and ghostly apparitions, but that's what makes From Now On so unpredictable. I would recommend this story to anyone looking for a good time travel romance with a proactive heroine and a story that's well-balanced with mystery, adventure, and camaraderie. I'm looking forward to where this series goes next.