The stories in this roundup were released as a part of a Dreamspinner Press Daily Dose in 2012. Two of the following stories were favorites of mine back then, while the other two I had not read until now. All four of the stories are time travel themed and the anthology is a must buy for enthusiasts of the genre. I have given these stories an overall rating of 4.5 stars.
Prom night, 1991. It was supposed to be “the best night of your life,” but it was anything but for Eric Somers. Years later, a middle-aged Eric is in therapy, invited to his high school reunion, and dreading every moment. As expected, the reunion is a train wreck, but, before he can make his escape, Eric runs into his former coach, who looks surprisingly unchanged. The two men have the strangest conversation, and, following a brief touch to his arm, Eric blacks out, only to find himself back in high school. It is week before prom, a week before the event with his tutor, Jake, that has haunted him into adulthood. Eric must now ask himself if he can in fact change the past and make a better future.
I will give Scully credit for creating some good, solid characters in Eric and Jake, but the author did not spend much time fleshing out the secondary characters who were so critical to the story. Scully treated the time travel kind of like a dream during the story which, although I found it a bit of a cheat, I will admit that it softened the time travel element and made for a clean, uncluttered resolution.
Fresh from receiving his doctorate in quantum physics, Dr. Joshua Bannon is hired to work for his long-time crush, Dr. Patrick Riley, a man over 25 years his senior. Quickly promoted to working directly with his idol, the fine line between crush and boss is tested, making Patrick call a halt to their actions in the locker room shower. When things go wrong in the lab, Joshua’s obsessive behavior lands him in the hospital with only Patrick to care for him. The ensuing days bring the realization that there is nothing either man can do to stop the freight train that is their attraction, except for the fact that Patrick is married to fellow researcher Max.
I actually posted on FB that “my noodle was cooked” from reading this story. This is one of the few stories that I did not read back in 2012 when the bundle was released, due to the cover appearing too sci-fi for my tastes at the time. I missed out all these years as Saturn in Retrograde will most assuredly be a regular re-read for me.
Fessenden did not skimp on this short story. All of the characters were well thought out and had good depth for being in an admittedly long short story, especially Joshua and Patrick. I will admit that the actions of the secondary characters, like Max, were at times baffling, but once the various levels of the story come together, everything makes sense and leaves you in awe.
Ethan returns home just in time to break up with his girlfriend. Despondent, Ethan calls his best friend, Jude, and on his way to Jude’s to talk things through, Ethan almost hits a figure in the middle of the road. Upon further inspection, the woman has disappeared. So how did the red headed woman he dubs “Ginger,” claiming to be Ethan’s guide, get in his car?
Ethan is given four visits to different places in time. Now the question is whether he can figure out the meaning behind the visits and discover the truth about Jude, and more importantly, about himself.
This may seem like an odd compliment, but had I not known Places in Time was written by Cardeno C., I never would have guessed it based on the style. Did I like it? Hell yeah! Did I understand Ethan’s cluelessness? Nope, not at all. Did that bother me? Not one bit. This was a cute, simple time travel story that was reminiscent of a Christmas Carol but with a wicked funny red-haired woman as the “ghost.”
Matt’s Great Great Aunt Violet passes away and Matt flies to Nebraska to support his mom. Having dumped “that Brandon” about four months previous, Matt does not have much to look forward to upon his return home, but can’t get Brandon off his mind. Aunt Violet didn’t have much, but left her photo album to Matt. Matt had always loved the album, in particular, a photo of Joseph, Violet’s cousin, taken in 1942. A series of dreams featuring Joseph plague Matt oven the weeks following Violet’s funeral, but Matt is confused as the dreams feel more real than reality itself.
Violet’s Present is another story I failed to read back in 2012, but this time because of the WWII setting (I am so not a fan of historical). But since I am a fan of Fielding, I decided to give it a shot.
The time travel element was solely set in the dream realm with aspects of the dream returning to “reality” once Matt woke up. Because of the firmness of the technique, I was happy to follow Matt and Joseph’s encounters, always wondering how these two men, separated by so many years, could find their HEA.
Time travel stories are not everyone’s cup of tea, that’s for sure. Some people feel they are complicated and confusing, and, although I don’t always disagree with that view, I feel that a good time travel story is worth the extra effort, especially in the case of these four stories.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.