Rating: 5 stars
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The year is 2145 and Reegan McNamara works as a tour guide for Blast in the Past tours, taking people on jaunts to the past. As a trained historian, Reegan loves the opportunity to see events and places from years ago live and in person. But last year someone was injured on one of his tours, leaving him with feelings of guilt and the company at risk of bankruptcy. But Reegan loves his job and is excited for the latest trip to 2020 to see a famous speech given by a president he admires on the National Mall.
Reegan recognizes one of the clients that night, Silvia Panitierre, as a woman who used to sing at a nearby bar when he was in college. She seems skittish and as if she is trying to disguise herself, but he doesn’t worry too much until Silvia disappears in the middle of the speech, taking off on her own in the busy city.
When Silvia’s powerful and controlling husband shows up at Blast in the Past, it is clear that Silvia was doing her best to escape him. But Reegan knows that Silvia will die if she stays in the past. While people from the future can safely visit the past, the longer they stay the more they disrupt the timeline. And when that happens, the visitors from the future will die. Silvia only has a short time before an accident or illness will take her life, but clearly she has no idea the danger she is in. Reegan is determined not to see another one of his clients harmed, and there is nothing to be done but return to the past and try to find her.
Reegan and his boss Maxie find a private investigator that lives in DC in 2020 and decide Reegan will hire him to help find Silvia. Saul Kildare is ex-military and a former cop, having been forced out of his job after a mutual fling with his partner blew up in his face. He is now a recovering alcoholic, struggling to make ends meet. When Reegan shows up at his office late at night, Saul senses something is off, but he needs the money and takes the case. Plus, he is definitely attracted to Reegan, even though he knows they shouldn’t get involved.
As Reegan and Saul look for Silvia in the busy city, things become more and more dangerous. Just like Silvia, Reegan’s time in the past is limited, and he faces one near death experience after another. It is clear that Reegan is hiding something and Saul knows he should keep him at a distance, but just can’t quite manage it. And Reegan has fallen for Saul, but knows that he will have to return to his time very soon or risk death, and there is no safe way to bring Saul along to the future. As time runs out and the men race to find Silvia and get her and Reegan safely home, the men must also face that though they have fallen hard for each other, they can never have a future together.
I get such a thrill when I find a book I know nothing about by a new-to-me author, and it turns out to be amazing. It is one of the things I love about reviewing, the opportunity to take a chance on the unfamiliar. And in the case of Paradox Lost, I am so thrilled that I gave this one a try because it was totally fabulous. There is so much to love here, from the unique story, to the fabulous characters, to the thrills and suspense. I really loved every minute of it.
First off, Drew gives us an incredibly fascinating story here. I loved the mix of the futuristic and the modern day. She builds a wonderful world, one that is accessible but also incredibly new and creative. Most of the story takes place in 2020, so technically the future, but only six years from present day. Life in 2020 is basically the same as it is now. I loved the wonder and excitement Reegan has at exploring the city and seeing what life is like here. He is a historian and fascinated by the past, and we can really feel his enthusiasm and curiosity as he and Saul race around trying to find Siliva. I loved the little things, like his excitement at seeing a Walmart where there is actual merchandise rather than holographic images of things to buy (as Reegan points out, Walmart still exists in 2145 because it will never die). And his practical foodgasm at tasting a really good burger, since their food is manufactured by machines and much more tasteless.
Along the way, we also learn a lot about the future. It is an interesting juxtaposition, because while they have lots of technology that makes their lives easier, it is a much more isolated world. Kids go to cyberschools rather than sit in classrooms. People interact much less as so much happens virtually and through technology. I will admit I am not always a huge sci fi reader, but trust me when I say this is a really accessible story even if this isn’t your preferred genre. Much of it feels just like a contemporary, but with the futuristic twists that make it just fascinating.
I also loved Saul and Reegan. Both men are haunted by their pasts: Reegan from his mistake that led to a tourist getting hurt, and Saul by the death of his sister and the loss of his job. Those experiences make them all the more committed to protecting Sivlia and seeing her safety returned and out of the clutches of her abusive husband. They are both such solid men, so committed to helping others and to doing what needs to be done. Their chemistry together is amazing and you can feel it the second they meet. Although they are only together a short time before Reegan needs to return home, the intensity of the experience and the time they spend together brings them incredibly close very fast. I could feel the passion between them, and choked up as the men prepare to say goodbye forever.
But the best part of this story for me is the thriller aspect. From the moment Reegan returns to the past to look for Silvia, there is nonstop excitement. They are racing against time, knowing that every minute Reegan and Sivlia spend the past, the more likely they are not to survive. It is incredibly suspenseful and exciting and I could barely catch my breath as I frantically flipped pages, waiting to see how everyone is going to make it out alive. And right up until the last minutes, I still had no idea how it would end, and how these guys would possibly salvage their HEA (which they do in spectacular fashion). I love when a thriller really takes you to the edge, and this book definitely succeeds.
So I really absolutely loved this book and can’t recommend it more highly. I found myself drawn in from the start, and just so captivated. I loved how Drew is able to combine the world building and the thriller aspect with a story that also has so much heart. I practically teared up at the prospect of these men having to live 125 years apart, and literally had chills reading the ending. Paradox Lost was absolutely fabulous and I highly encourage you all to give it a try. Just wonderful!
Pardox Lost will be released January 27th by Carina Press.