Art historian Campbell Stratford is very close to securing the top job at her museum, but first she needs to complete a biography of seventeenth century artist Anthony Van Dyck first. Unfortunately, her publisher wants her to add a little sex and drama to an otherwise rather staid story, and she has no idea where to start. Then she accidentally discovers a time portal, courtesy of amazon.com, and finds herself in seventeenth century England at the studio of Peter Lely with a host of naked models. At first naturally shocked, Campbell then seizes on the opportunity to observe Lely paint – but she doesn’t know that he’s been expecting her, and neither of them could have predicted the attraction that immediately springs up between them.
I haven’t read very many time travel romances, but I liked this idea of this one, and it was very well executed for the first part. We’re aware of the time travel from the very beginning, since the book starts from Peter Lely’s point of view. He’s sent back from an in-between place – between dying and being born again – to rescue Van Dyck’s reputation, but his personal goal is to declare his dead lover, Ursula, his wife by royal decree. When he meets Campbell, he’s astonished by his reaction to her.
The best part of this book for me was reading about each individual character’s reaction to finding themselves in the past or the future. Campbell is considerably less shocked by her presence in the sixteenth century than Peter is by his in the twenty-first, which only makes sense. She’s spent her life studying the period, so she at least knows what’s going on. Everything is foreign to Peter and his earnest determination to stick to calling things what he’s used to – tunic, carriage, and so on – is endearing. I really liked the way the whole time travel angle was handed, and I think that now I’d be open to reading more in the genre (Yes, I have read Outlander and no, I didn’t love it the way everyone else did).
The romance did let me down a bit, though. I often fail to relate to couples who meet and then two hours later find themselves in bed together; it’s just not something I’d ever do and it definitely has me questioning the believability factor. This is especially so when Peter and Campbell shortly afterwards develop animosity towards one another; there’s so much distrust that it’s hard to believe they could also be falling in love at the same time.
So, to sum up, I enjoyed Flirting with Forever but I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I’d been able to connect with the romance. Still, I definitely wouldn’t mind reading more by Gwyn Cready or in the genre of time travel romance.
I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the publisher for review.