Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Review: The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway


In Bee Ridgway’s wonderfully imaginative debut novel, a man and a woman travel through time in a quest to bring down a secret society that controls the past and, thus, the future.

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

Dutton Adult | April 23, 2013 | 464 pages

My Review

4.5 Stars

The River of No Return, Bee Ridgway's remarkable debut novel, is a thoroughly enjoyable tale of time travel, adventure and romance.   Seeking to escape the familial responsibilities thrust upon him after the unexpected death of his father, English Marquess Nick Falcott joins the Army and is sent to the continent to help defeat Napoleon's forces.  While in Spain Nick finds himself on the wrong end of a French soldier's weapon and is faced with certain death.  Rather than dying, however, Nick wakes up in London 200 years into the future, where he is recruited by the Guild, an ultra-secret time travel organization.  Told that it is impossible to ever go back, Nick settles into a new life in the United States.  After more than a decade in the 21st century, however, Nick is summoned to Guild headquarters in London.  The Guild needs Nick's help to stop the activities of a rogue time travel group.  There is only one catch.  In order to carry out the Guild's wishes Nick must do something he was told wasn't possible - he must travel back in time to 1815 England.     

Meanwhile, back in 1815, Julia Percy, mourning the loss of her grandfather and trying to avoid his tyrannical and obsessive heir, discovers she has the ability to manipulate time, a gift she had believed belonged to her grandfather.   When Nick, whose family estate lies next to Julia's, returns home seemingly from the dead, he and Julia find themselves increasingly drawn to one another.   But despite her growing feelings for Nick, Julia quickly realizes that she must keep her time manipulation abilities from him.  Nick, on the other hand, becomes drawn into Guild intrigues and learns that there may be more to the Guild than he has been lead to believe.  The only thing he knows for sure is that the very future may be in jeopardy and that he must do what he can to get to the bottom of things before it is too late.

The River of No Return is the type of novel that reinforces why I love to read.   With a fabulous cast of characters, an original and imaginative storyline and eloquent prose, Bee Ridgway has created a memorable work of fiction that is a delight to read.   Nick is the type of hero who is easy for readers to like, while Julia is the type of heroine with whom readers can empathize.  Together they make a formidable pair.   The supporting characters are well drawn, interesting and, most importantly, entertaining.   The story itself moves at steady pace, never flagging, and contains some interesting and unexpected twists.   This is a book not to be missed.   I can't wait to hear more from Bee Ridgway.

Note: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.