Time Taken is the third book in the Out of Time series, which features time traveling agents who travel back to verify historical accounts. I have read the two previous titles and very much enjoyed them. While I don’t think it’s required, you might enjoy reading Time Waits and Time Lost before tackling this one.
It’s hard for me to categorize Time Taken, but I think time-travel romantic suspense is probably the most succinct description. I also struggled to write a spoiler-free summary, because SO MUCH happened.
Rhys Griffiths and Qasim El-Fakhri both work for the Temporal Research Institute (TRI), a facility that uses time-travel technology to perform historical research. Rhys is a time-jump supervisor, while Qasim is a time agent, traveling back in time to gain data for various purposes. Rhys is supervising Qasim’s most recent jump when it goes awry. What should have been a routine mission ends up putting Qasim in the infirmary for weeks after he returns to TRI with a nasty sword wound and PTSD in the extreme.
Rhys and Qasim had only ever had a professional relationship, but the stress of recuperation and dealing with the fall-out of the botched mission brings them closer in unexpected ways. Their camaraderie highlights the deficiencies in Rhys’ long-term relationship. Qasim is a devout Muslim, which means he’s only planning to have sex with his husband, but they aren’t exactly platonic—once Rhys is single. I adored the depiction of Muslims in this story; it is very culture-positive, with loving and joyous demonstrations of the religion.
Qasim, despite his recent brush with mortality, is scheduled to return to the past sooner than normal. It seems someone is pulling strings to get him back in action, and it’s upsetting for both Qasim and Rhys. Qasim thought things went bad on his previous mission. This one is even more tragic—with fatality a protracted expectation. Rhys does all he can to make Qasim comfortable, even pulling strings to get his family to have access to TRI’s most secret areas, but it’s a situation of unexpected tragedy. Trying to save the love of his life could cost Rhys his job—and Qasim.
I will be upfront and tell you this one made me cry—while on my Caribbean vacation!! It was both shocked and happy tears, though, because I knew life for Qasim and Rhys would only get better and better. These two seemingly mismatched souls connected at exactly the right moment and their love story, though initially turbulent, was all the sweeter for the obstacles they each had to overcome.
Rhys gains a loving family through Qasim, and they embrace more than each other when the slow burn is satisfied. I loved Qasim’s family and their strong commitment to both Qasim and his love of Rhys. Qasim being gay caused a rift in his family, but that was settled as the story continued. The story comes full circle regarding the politics of TRI and even shines light on a running sub-plot from previous books: the fate of the creator of TRI. His son Ben has long been piecing together traces of his father in history, but it seems that might be the plot of the next story. The coming together of Qasim and Rhys takes a long time—and I mean that in terms of the book, and Qasim’s battle to return to his present. The themes of self sacrifice and unconditional love are full on in this one, with numerous examples of each from different quarters. I liked getting to see some of the previous books’ main characters, though only Rhys’ supervisor, Jacob, has more than a cameo role.
It’s been a long time since I spent time in this world, but really liked this installment of the series. I’m eager to experience Ben’s journey for truth and his father…whenever that occurs.