It’s the year 2020 and Temporal Agent Charleston Meeks is assigned to a special project. The Restore Point Program, which Charleston’s father developed, sends agents back in time to save a person’s life, just once. Charleston’s father wants to see what would happen if the same agent was able to save the same person’s life more than once. Charleston then saves Barnaby Rosenthal from a series of events starting when Barnaby is an infant and then through his teen years. However, each agent can only make a specific number of trips before there is the possibility of permanent damage and, as Charleston reaches that number, his father forbids any further contact with Barnaby. But, Charleston is invested, possibly attached to Barnaby, and he needs to make one last and final trip.
For a short story, there is a lot to talk about with this one. But then again, for a short story, to talk too much about it would then give too much away. First off, this is just an intriguing story. While Charleston is being sent back in time, Barnaby was born in 1992, and the time period is easily recognizable. And what greatly appealed to me is that while Charleston is going back and forth between the two time periods, he’s not fixed into just one time period. On the surface this is Charleston’s story. He has been living and working as a time travel agent, but he is reaching the point where he can no longer travel safely. Through an error, or an act of fate, he is put into the path of Barnaby and then tasked to save him during various points of Barnaby’s life. The catch here is that all of this happens in a short period of time for Charleston, but for Barnaby, the actions occur over the course of his young life. Charleston shows up for only a few minutes each time, just when Barnaby needs him most. We do not get to see how this contact has affected Barnaby, until we do get just a glimpse of how these visits may have impacted him.
As with all time travel stories, there are no finite rules. From one time travel story to the next the rules are different and we have to get caught up and just move along with what is presented to us. There are then areas that can always be debated and ideas can be circled around and around as to why certain aspects play out as they do and I always will have time travel questions. There is also one point of contradiction at the end of the story that stuck out at me. But, that is just part of the nature of time travel stories. The most awesome part of this story is that there is a full length novel that expands the story of Charleston and Barnaby. As is, the ending is tough to take for the sole reason that it just cannot possibly end there. So read the start of Charleston and Barnaby’s story in One Constant and know going into it to have the sequel, Right on Time, already lined up.
At the exact moment when Barnaby needed someone the most, Charleston would show up and save him. Charleston has been the one constant in Barnaby’s life, but Barnaby never knows when he will show up or even if he will appear. At this point, it’s been seven years since Barnaby has seen Charleston and most of his friends and family think the man Barnaby constantly draws is simply a figment of his imagination. Charleston also cannot stop thinking about Barnaby and knows the man is out there. In the present year of 2020, Charleston is ready to find Barnaby and see if there is a future for them based upon a few fleeting moments in the past.
Just when Charleston finds Barnaby, Barnaby is in danger once more. A senator, who is aware of the Restore program, is looking to terminate all of the people that were saved and Barnaby is of particular interest to her. With hired assassins on their trail, Barnaby and Charleston are on the run and no where is safe for Barnaby. It is possible that the only destiny the men can have is just a few special and brief moments where past and present once again collide.
Right on Time picks up shortly after the ending of One Constant and it works best to have read them in order. This book gives more insight into how Barnaby viewed the visits he received from Charleston, how meeting Charleston has completely altered his life, and also goes over the previous time travel that had already taken place and we get to see the larger picture of each scenario. Just when Charleston finally gets to Barnaby, there is certainly not much time for a reunion as the men are immediately put into danger. However, there were moments of character development and the connection between the men is real. It was really interesting to see how this all came together as the men have barely spent any time together, but their bond is solid and believable with sexual tension just one touch away.
The story then takes them on the move as they try to out run guns aimed in Barnaby’s direction. The plot here is not complicated and it does not take long to see what the senator’s motives are. This book, however, offers very little actual time travel. This was one area that was lacking for me as I was really interested in seeing a larger portion of time travel. Also, the men do not get to spend much quality time together. There is never a doubt that the men will ultimately be together, but after the build up of getting them really together, they are immediately on the run. Barnaby has been waiting his entire life for Charleston and my view was that I needed more time to see them together without guns aimed at them.
Then to the ending. Well, see, that is the area where the time travel aspect comes into play. There was a minor inconsistency, it’s time travel, I had questions, it’s just how I roll. The ending, which could be their beginning, winds up diminishing a part of their reunion and the larger scope of the way the ending played out was a bit unsatisfying for me. (If that sounds cryptic it’s because I can’t possibly reveal any more details) The author did a great job overall of expanding a short story into a larger novel. There were key elements from the short story that were incorporated into the novel and the two stories flowed well from one to the other. Definitely a recommended read for some time travel in a futuristic yet recognizable setting, with a love story that spans one boy’s lifetime.
A review copy of these books was provided by Dreamspinner Press.