Out of Time (Out of Time #1)

Out of TimeBy Monique Martin

Self Published
Publication Date: February 2, 2010
Genre: Paranormal/Romance
Source: Purchased

New York in the 1920’s is the world of Prohibition, speakeasies and an underground run by the underworld.  Vampires and mobsters vie for power in the seedy underbelly of Manhattan.

A mysterious accident sends Professor Simon Cross and his assistant, Elizabeth West back in time to face demons real and imagined.

Simon Cross has spent his life searching for vampires and now that he’s found one, it just might take him from the only woman he’s ever loved.  Simon’s life has been a ritual of research into the occult and stoic solitude.  He prefers it that way.  Until he meets Elizabeth West.

A gambler’s daughter, Elizabeth knows a bluff when she sees one.  Behind Simon’s icy glares and nearly impenetrable armor beats the heart of a man in desperate need of love.

Goodreads Summary

UC-Berkeley Occult Professor Simon Cross has been in love with his much younger graduate teaching assistant Elizabeth West for a long time but has vowed never to let her know or ever, ever do anything about it.  Lately, he’s been having horrible nightmares of her death – nightmares that he believes are really visions, destined to become real just like his visions of his grandfather’s death did.

Elizabeth is equally in love with Simon and figures the taboo professor/student dynamic is just one of the things keeping him from showing even the slightest bit of interest in her.  He’s completely locked down emotionally and she’d have given up on him, but there are moments when he cracks and she sees the way he looks at her..  Now lately he’s looking exhausted and distracted and he’ll barely speak to her at all.

One night Elizabeth is at Simon’s, delivering some papers she’s graded for class, when she spies an antique box with some artifacts he’s received.  Inside are a scarab ring and a lovely fob watch.  When she and Simon sit together to examine it, the watch suddenly starts and a vortex pulls them back through time to the 1920’s.  Stuck together, they have to find ways to fit in, a place to stay and a way to earn some money to pay their way until the next lunar eclipse, when they believe the watch will activate again and take them back to the present day.  Forced to spend so much time together and depend on each other, Simon finally lets his feelings for Elizabeth out.

When Elizabeth finds work as a speakeasy waitress she draws the attention of mobster King Kashian, which drives Simon wild with jealousy and kick-starts his protective instinct.  He gets a job at the same joint as a pianist to keep an eye on her, but he can’t keep things with the mobsters from going wrong – and Simon finally gets his validation that vampires really do exist.

I liked Out of Time, but I kept thinking it would have been fine with me if the paranormal stuff had been tossed out and this had just been a straight romance.

Despite being a little bit of a “stereotypical older British professor” (starchy, overly mannerly, outwardly chilly), Simon is actually rather sweetly vulnerable.  Elizabeth is completely out of his realm of experience – she’s nearly twenty years younger, bright, tenacious and reckless where he’s become almost painfully cautious.  The setting suits both of them perfectly – they landed at just the right time for her natural “moxie” to be appreciated, while his gallantry and protectiveness towards Elizabeth wouldn’t make much of a stir either.  I liked Elizabeth most of the time – she was a little unrelentingly vivacious sometimes and had the bad habit of being willing to toss herself in the path of danger even when it upset Simon.

If this had just been a romance with a little side story about a jealous mobster, it really would have been enough.  Some of the paranormal elements here didn’t add anything and ended up just muddying what was a fine story without them.  The time travel part was a necessary given, but I just don’t know what the addition of ancient demon vampires with and without souls added to the story.  If there had been more time in the story focused on it, it might have fit, but the bulk of the story was really about Simon overcoming his hangups and being able to just accept his feelings for Elizabeth.  I don’t know that there needed to be a big huge conflict based on vampires when there already were a couple of other big issues to be resolved at the end of the story.

My Summary: This really worked for me as a romance – Simon and Elizabeth were a terrific couple and even if things didn’t get spelled out explicitly, their bedroom activities were still hot.  The characters were likeable, believable and I had fun with their time travel storyline.  I didn’t get the addition of the vampires almost at the end though and it took me out of their story and turned it into something that felt a little awkward.

My Rating: C+

Barbara

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