A Stitch in Time by Amanda James

When I heard about the forthcoming release of this book I knew immediately that I had to buy it. I am a massive Dr Who fan and anything that involves time travel and romance was always going to appeal to me. I couldn’t wait to start reading this and finished it within two days.
A Stitch In Time is very easy to read. The subject of time travel can be unbelievably complicated and baffling, but Amanda James manages to explain the way that it works in her novel in a very easy-to-understand way. I found the whole concept of Needles and Stitches very imaginative and a clever concept.
The main characters are Sarah and John. Sarah is a teacher whose self-esteem is at an all time low after a double betrayal, and whose morale is at rock bottom with the pressures of her teaching job and her unfulfilled longing to be a mother. John is a market gardener who lives a double life as a Needle – a kind of guardian to his Stitches. Stitches must travel through time to prevent the death of a person whose loss would have a massive impact on the future. Sarah has been chosen by the powers-that-be to be a Stitch.
Sarah, understandably, is completely stunned by this revelation. She believes she has been hallucinating and it takes her quite a while to accept the truth of her situation. When she does, she is ready to undertake her first mission, and finds herself in Sheffield, during the Blitz. It’s an area that she is very familiar with, but it’s also the night of a major air raid that will leave all those around her dead. Who must Sarah save? And how can she achieve her mission?

The time travelling scenes are brilliantly done, with Sarah also travelling to Kansas in the nineteenth century to save a life among a group of homesteaders who are enduring a plague of locusts, Edwardian London, and a hospital in the nineteen twenties, where a very important discovery is about to be made…if Sarah can be successful. These scenes are just the right length, with the author striking a successful balance between the missions and Sarah’s home life and her developing romance with Needle John.
The two main characters are very likeable. From the first scene Sarah wins the reader over. She is a very modern girl dealing with a complicated life, and immediately the reader will be on her side, willing her on through her heartbreak and cheering her through her challenges. John is a delightful hero, and there is enough passion, conflict and tension to make a very enjoyable romance. Besides Sarah’s trust issues, there is also a former girlfriend of John’s to deal with, and on top of all that, the powers-that-be or “The Spindly Ones” as Sarah calls them, are unwilling to allow a Needle and a Stitch to be together. Can John and Sarah prove that their love is genuine? Will The Spindly Ones give them a chance? Or will Sarah’s lack of faith lead to the end of her Stitching days and the erasure of all her time-travelling memories, including those of John himself?
This is a well thought out book with a unique twist on time travel, likeable characters, a strong romance and some interesting historical facts thrown in for good measure. As Sarah is a history teacher she is quickly aware of the situations she has landed in, and through her easy summing up of what is happening around her the reader understands what is going on without being force fed a lot of dry and dusty facts. School history lessons were never like this (sadly!) and I can well understand why some reviewers are demanding a sequel. I don’t know if that’s the author’s plan but I could quite see it working. All in all this is a very entertaining novel and highly recommended. 5/5

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A Stitch In Time

A Stitch In Time

 

An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy by June Kearns

Texas in the nineteenth century. Colt McCall, half Sioux, half Irish, is a handsome cowboy. He earns his living dealing horses, is popular with the local ladies, and has friends in unlikely places – as well as enemies. Colt has a reputation and he has a shady past. Staying alive is tough enough; this here’s Comanche country and it sure ain’t no place for a lady.

Annie Haddon – abandoned by her father and left in the care of her unwilling aunts, permanently lame after a spiteful trick by her cousin Charlotte, and all but promised in marriage to a man who repulses her – is travelling with her relatives in a stagecoach when it is attacked, and she is knocked unconscious and left for dead.

Colt is on a mission. He is in a hurry, is in dangerous territory, and a badly injured Englishwoman is the last thing he needs. But he sure ain’t gonna leave a lady to the mercy of scalp-hunters, so he hauls her onto his horse and together they set off to take Annie to a place of safety where she can hopefully be reunited with her family and the man who is to become her husband.
Annie is scared of McCall and he has no time for prissy English women. They come from different worlds and don’t have much trust in each other. Yet, somehow, their journey across the inhospitable Texan plains will bring healing and a whole new beginning for them both…
I loved this book, although I admit I was reluctant to read it. I’m not particularly interested in Westerns and the idea of a cowboy hero didn’t appeal to me. However, I’m happy to say I was right to give it a try. Colt McCall is a real treat. A rootin’ tootin’ cowboy with full on sex appeal, yet kind and understanding, with just enough hurt in his past to make any woman’s heart melt. Oh, and he’s kind to puppies, too!
Annie is a very modern nineteenth century miss, with a determined attitude and strong moral values, but she is also very human. She makes lots of mistakes and errors of judgement and I loved the fact that she wasn’t the typical beautiful heroine. Her cousin, Charlotte, makes the point very forcibly on several occasions that Annie is no beauty and hardly likely to attract any man with her limp and her frizzy red hair. Yet Colt sees beyond all that, ignoring Charlotte’s prettiness and falling for the person that Annie truly is.

There is lots of witty banter between the two of them, as well as a sizzling chemistry. The characters in the book are all very deftly portrayed and feel very real and easy to visualise. There is some wonderful descriptive prose, too, which really brings the west to life. You almost feel the scorching heat on your back, see the sun-bleached bones of dead buffalo, and cough to clear the dust from your throat as you read this novel. It really is wonderful and I can’t wait to read the author’s next book. Colt McCall is a wanted man – and frankly, I’m not surprised! 5/5

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An Englishwoman's Guide to the Cowboy

An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy