Size Doesn’t Matter (170): Overseas; A Hundred Summers

Size Doesn’t Matter (170): Overseas; A Hundred SummersOverseas by Beatriz Williams
Narrator: January LaVoy
Length: 15 hrs, 49 mins
Published by Penguin Audio on May 10, 2012
Genres: Historical, Fantasy, Romance, Time Travel
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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two-half-stars

When twenty-something Wall Street analyst Kate Wilson attracts the notice of the legendary Julian Laurence at a business meeting, no one’s more surprised than she is. Julian’s relentless energy and his extraordinary intellect electrify her, but she’s baffled by his sudden interest. Why would this handsome British billionaire—Manhattan’s most eligible bachelor—pursue a pretty but bookish young banker who hasn’t had a boyfriend since college?

The answer is beyond imagining . . . at least at first. Kate and Julian’s story may have begun not in the moneyed world of twenty-first-century Manhattan but in France during World War I, when a mysterious American woman emerged from the shadows of the Western Front to save the life of Captain Julian Laurence Ashford, a celebrated war poet and infantry officer.

Now, in modern-day New York, Kate and Julian must protect themselves from the secrets of the past, and trust in a true love that transcends time and space.

I started reading Beatriz Williams a few years ago because her audiobooks come to me in the PRH audio reviewer emails, and I’m helpless to resist high society historicals. They’re of mixed quality, and they definitely run to historical melodrama, but they’re uniformly fun to read. Today, I’m reviewing the last two books from her backlist from before I got on the audio reviewer list. Overseas, her debut, is an absurd time travel romance, and plot-wise it’s by far the weakest of all of her books.

Listen, Overseas is trash fun. It’s sort of like Fifty Shades only instead of being into BDSM, the billionaire’s deep dark secret is that he time traveled to the present from World War I. Kate meets Julian Laurence at work, and they’re immediately very much drawn to one another. This just barely misses being thoroughly creepy because they do have a nice rapport when they chat, but it also sets the baseline for what sort of romance this is. Expect lots of tropes common to paranormal romance. It’s also very clearly indebted to Kate & Leopold; like, her name is actually even Kate.

For all that I’m not really into any of the tropes used, the ship is compelling, if not actually good. Kate spends most of the book being jealous of herself (something that’s played like a huge twist in the book but which is exceedingly obvious from the start to the reader). The book alternates between Kate in the past with a younger Julian, and him in the future with Kate. The book would have been less predictable if it linearly followed Kate’s timeline. Julian’s also really frustrating with his refusal to tell Kate anything; he has a reason, but it’s super annoying because he’s weirdly controlling and withholding for ages.

The time travel itself is quite silly. The explanation for why it happens is that this one particular dude can do it if he has an object from the person and goes to a point of climax (not like that) in their life. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and it’s so weirdly specific. I’d actually be more accepting of *handwave it is magic oooooo*, but such is life.

2.5 stars is probably over generous, but I had fun listening to this and laughing at how silly it was.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Size Doesn’t Matter (170): Overseas; A Hundred SummersA Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
Narrator: Kathleen McInerney
Length: 11 hrs, 35 mins
Published by Penguin Audio on May 30, 2013
Genres: Historical, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Goodreads
two-stars

Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.

That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancé, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily's friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction...and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations.

Under the scorching summer sun, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick’s marriage bubbles to the surface, and as a cataclysmic hurricane barrels unseen up the Atlantic and into New England, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which will change their worlds forever.

Williams’ sophomore effort is in some ways better (losing the time travel element), but it’s also a backwards step in terms of ship quality. As ever, I couldn’t help being entertained, but again it’s not her best.

A Hundred Summers (why is it called this? this one has a shorter time span that most of her books) isn’t a great fit for me right from the get go. Like most of Williams’ books, there’s a dual timeline. Lily Dale falling in love with Nick Greenwald in 1931, and Lily and Nick meeting up again in 1938 when he’s married to her best friend Budgie.

It’s clear from the outset that Lily and Nick are the ship, and this sort of ship just doesn’t do anything for me. He’s married! You have to wait a really long time to find out why he married her, and it’s melodrama absolutely all the way along. Admittedly, it did surprise me that View Spoiler », but even so I figured it out before Lily did.

Because of the dual timeline, I really couldn’t get invested in the romance. As with Overseas, it might have been stronger written linearly. If I hadn’t known he would end up married to someone else, the cuteness of their early days might have gotten me into this star-crossed ship. This sort of kept-apart-by-circumstances thing really just doesn’t get the ship chugging out of the dock for me.

The whole book was melodrama, but I still wasn’t prepared for how ridiculously over-the-top the ending was. Like, jesus fuck what was that? View Spoiler » TOTAL TRASH FIRE.

It’s less boring and derivative than Overseas plot-wise, but also WHY WOULD I WANT THIS? If you enjoy OTT melodrama, A Hundred Summers will delight you, but otherwise, skip this one.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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