Danny Ferguson is a code analyst looking for inconsistencies in a corporate code job when he runs across some really unusual patterns. His report leads to a work trip to Manchester and the Temporal Research Institute (TRI) working on a top-secret, NDA-certified project that seems like espionage—or tampering. TRI Director, Lysander O’Donoghue, isn’t sure if he has a rogue coder or a hacker from the outside, but he’s not willing to chance anything. He’s authorized Danny to investigate the gamut of time-gate coding and see if he can unravel the growing problem of code planting.
Danny is, of course, sworn to secrecy regarding his project, but head coder Ben Sanders is quick to discover the root cause. As Danny builds his evidence—investigating Ben and his fellow coders—he also strikes up an unlikely camaraderie with Lysander. Lysander is used to taking care of everyone, and everything, including himself, but he’s often quick to pass up meals and sleep if work gets stressful. Danny’s extra effort to send Lysander meals and provide comfort when needed is especially valuable when the TRI is implicated in an unauthorized time-gate opening, and the crossing over of a local who is now out of his timeline.
Time Turns is the fourth book in the Out of Time series and I think it is best enjoyed reading the books in order. The focus of the story is a compress time narrative, with Danny and Lysander spending roughly four weeks in close contact and experiencing a strong attraction for one another. Danny’s nurturing instincts really pull Lysander along and out of the funk he falls into when Danny’s de-coding leads to an unlikely, but undeniable, suspect for the coding breaches. For me, I had a strong suspicion about the saboteur, but the writing provided excellent misdirection, which made the suspense build in rewarding ways.
Like previous titles, this story is heavy on both the romance and the sci-fi elements. It’s easy to imagine this near-future with instant connectivity and self-driving pod cars, and ethical dilemmas surrounding time travelers interfering with timelines into the future. Danny’s a quirky genius and I enjoyed being in his head. Lysander is a trans man, and his insecurities surrounding his dodgy relationship history and negative interactions with family and partners slows the seduction in believable ways. Danny is a bit relentless in his caretaking of Lysander, however, which allows Lysander to build sufficient trust to reach for his desire thanks to their growing rapport. Also, their sexy times are as mutually rewarding as their cuddle times and their tender confidences.
The end brings new opportunities for both Danny and Lysander as they continue seek the saboteur and some level of justice for the man now trapped more than two hundred years from his former life. I think the book ended in a great spot—I’m happy for Lysander and Danny, but I also am eagerly looking forward to the resolution to this extended story arc. It’s been running thorough all the books from the start, to some degree, and it seems we might be on the cusp of a full-out conclusion of all the timeline struggles, which I believe might bring peace to a number of characters in this series, notably Ben. I’m fairly sure the next book will center on Ben, and I hope he gets a reunion with his long-lost family.