Rating: 4.25 stars
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Ravi is part of a team of elite soldiers that work for a secret organization called The Trust. Together, they find and eradicate all kinds of paranormal threats to human society. It’s a role Ravi relishes, doing something good, something important before having to give it all up for the sake of maintaining his family’s lineage. He’s pretty sure he can stick it out another five years before the powers that be—namely his aunt—force him into a union for the sole purpose of producing an heir. Maybe the world truly needs Ravi to father the next Chosen for The Trust, but for now, Ravi can just be. That is until he meets a chronomancer who comes to Ravi with a wild story about how they will unwittingly cause Ravi significant problems in August and so are hoping to make amends beforehand.
Cayenne wants nothing more than to have some kind of meaningful connection with Ravi. They came from a future where Ravi will have nothing to do with Cayenne. So, as a chronomancer who can control where they are in the flow of time, Cayenne has come to the past. They help Ravi and The Trust identify and neutralize some paranormal threats to human existence. And if Cayenne manages to get Ravi to go out just the two of them a time or two, so much the better. They even convince Ravi to go with them on a luxury, tropical vacation. What starts as an experiment in getting Ravi to relax and set aside The Trust business for just a little while ends up with Ravi and Cayenne getting closer to each other than they ever dreamed possible. Both Ravi and Cayenne are left with feelings far deeper than they know how to handle, but they also both know those same feelings are better left repressed.
Stolen from Tomorrow is a time-traveling romp that features an opposites-attract romance between Ravi, a cisgender man, and Cayenne, a nonbinary person. While there is a hefty amount of time jumping, it mostly happens in small increments of time. That allows the story timeline to read and mostly flow in a straight line. That said, Ravi calls Cayenne out on using their ability to their own advantage. Specifically, Cayenne “rewinds” time every time they say or do something that makes Ravi mad (much like Groundhog day without having to re-do the whole day). I loved how that seemingly small thing got picked up by Ravi and gave the two characters a chance to get closer.
The one (larger) wrinkle in the time-traveling set up was that it seemed to me that Cayenne can only jump through time alone, thanks to a special tattoo on the back of their hand. We learn much much later on that Cayenne can actually bring someone with them when they jump. It was fun to learn that this was possible (we learn about this little fact so Ravi and Cayenne can experience a sort of endless orgasm, fun!), but I was a little annoyed that I had to stop and be critical just when these two are getting intimate because up until that point, I thought it was pretty clearly established that Cayenne could only jump through time alone. The other (small) wrinkle to the time traveling was how Cayenne uses this “rewind” style time jumping to get the best outcome when they and Ravi face trouble at the tropical resort. For someone who, for all intents and purposes, is a professional time traveler, it seemed weird that Cayenne would not rewind to the very beginning of the day to nip the problem in the bud. Instead, there are multiple iterations of the big battle because Cayenne only skips back a few minutes each time. That “minimal time skip” didn’t make sense to me.
I thought Ravi and Cayenne were great characters. They made the opposites-attract trope a lot of fun. Ravi is super buttoned up; working for The Trust gave him big secret-law-enforcement-special-ops vibes. We learn a little about his upbringing in and around The Trust—both his aunt and mother at least were members, the former being very high up in The Trust and the latter being deceased. Ravi has a lot of internalized self-loathing for not being able to live up to his family’s expectations and I enjoyed seeing him slowly open up about that with Cayenne while they were on their tropical vacation. Cayenne, on the other hand, came across as a fabulous extrovert with a big heart and a knack for risque quips. Apart from their physical appearance (which was intriguing to me because it’s very clearly established that this is some sort of facade for Cayenne) and the fact that they are a chronomancer who controls where they are in time, there wasn’t a lot we learned about Cayenne. Mostly, there was the veiled suggestion that Cayenne does something horrible in the future. There was a big part of me that didn’t understand why a super agent like Ravi would just let that go. Yet the story unfolds in a way that Cayenne and the circumstances they and Ravi end up in just make it seem reasonable to table the discussion of why Cayenne came to the past.
Since this is the first book in a series, I am eager to see what happens going forward. Early in the story, we had an introduction to all the other people on Ravi’s team and their abilities. We learned that some of them are of more interest to The Trust and the Trust’s mission than others (especially the one that accidentally projected herself centuries into the future). But after a few short missions they embarked on thanks to inside information from Cayenne, the book largely focuses on the tropical vacation Cayenne takes Ravi on. This is where the most meaty parts of the book are, in my view. We learn a lot about Ravi’s past, we learn more about Cayenne’s powers, we get to see them working as a team to defeat the monster that managed to sneak into this dimension to eat humans. There are also a ton of clues that caught my eye about Cayenne. I don’t know what will happen, but Cayenne basically introducing themself by saying “I’m going to do something you’re all going to hate me for in the future, so let me help you out now” and little nuggets tucked into the text like Cayenne having a “black heart” and the fact that their appearance was manufactured, all created a terrific sense of suspense about what will happen in the future.
Overall, I thought this was a fun, fraught romance. It’s clear from the get-go that Ravi/Cayenne will be up against some big challenges later in the series, so seeing them open up to one another in this book felt like a relaxed get together (even if they ended up fighting a mysterious, dangerous monster). Not only does Cayenne make it clear that their future self will cause some problems, we know Ravi’s family’s demands are hanging over Ravi’s head. I am excited to see where the next books go! If you like mostly fluffy introductions to a series, but with big foreshadowing to major angsty events later, I think this is a great title for you. Fans of monster-hunter stories, stories featuring queer characters, and fans of time travel stories will also find a lot to enjoy!
I’m off to get a sample as this does sound intriguing! Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Camille.