Trick of Time

Trick of Time - J.L. Merrow I used to love time-slip children's books, but for some reason time-travel romance rarely works for me. Trick of Time, though most definitely an adult story, took me back to those children's stories, in which the sense of the unknown was scary and the stakes could be very high.Still recovering from the death of his husband and parents, and his own slightly disabling injuries, Ted finds new love in a most unexpected place -- the past. Stepping outside the Criterion theatre for a smoke one night, he walks into what looks like a film set of Victorian England, with a gorgeous man posing as a "rent boy." But the man, Jem, is real, as is the encounter they share before Ted returns to the theatre and the present. Ted had no appropriate money, so naturally he has to return the next night to pay Jem… and to try and get to know him. But Ted has no idea of what the rules governing his time slips are, and his time with Jem may be running out.This is a fast-paced story featuring two appealingly vulnerable characters. It's too short to really do full justice to everything that's going on in it -- the mysterious visits to another time, falling in love and making love, Ted finding closure and recovering his self-esteem. Authenticity faltered a few times -- Jem seems implausibly well educated -- but there were some nice imaginative touches, like Jem's surprise when Ted suggests they go outside to smoke. Where other Merrow stories were very strong on characterization, this one seemed more about the plot -- a very suspenseful and emotional plot. (Perhaps partly why I felt nostalgic, since children's books are so plot-driven.) The drama and tension of the final section is tautly powerful.(reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley)