Monday, June 9, 2014

Retro Review: A Hitch in Time by Christine Holden

This review of A Hitch in Time by Christine Holden was first published at The Romance Reader in 2000.  I rated it 2-Hearts (D range) with a MPAA content rating of "PG-13."


Drew Montague has been given an ultimatum by his control freak of a father. Drew has been struggling with law school while trying to support his young daughter through his inheritance. Even though his mother is sympathetic and doting, his father has decided it’s time for Drew to grow up. So, he informs Drew that either he quit law school and learn the ropes on the family’s sugar plantation or lose his inheritance.

Drew is conflicted to say the least. While he has big dreams of becoming a lawyer, he has the welfare of his daughter, Teal, to think about. He’s still turning the idea over in his head, when he walks Teal’s babysitter to the bus stop. While returning home through the streets of New Orleans, he comes across a gold pocket watch hanging from a hitching post. Recalling a nursery rhyme his own nanny used to recite to him, Drew picks up the watch, only to be transported back to New Orleans, 1853!

Marianne Beaufort is a stunning beauty on her way to attend a party at the glittering St. Louis hotel. At this party, she will be announcing her engagement to Rafe Montague, a man she is none to fond of. However, when her father succumbed to yellow fever the year before, it was up to Marianne to secure her family’s survival when Rafe chose her for his bride over her older sister, Genevieve. She had resigned herself to her fate, when she stumbles upon a stranger in odd clothing outside the hotel.

Drew is confused about what has happened to him, and determined to find a way out of his predicament and back to his daughter. But he finds his thoughts wandering when he sets eyes on the stunning Marianne. Both are immediately drawn to each other, but how can they give into their growing feelings when Drew must find a way to get home, and Marianne is betrothed? Not only that, but how can Drew fall in love with the woman who is set to marry his great-great grandfather?

I really wanted to like this book. For one thing, it’s been ages since I’ve read a time travel where the hero is the one to go back in time. Unfortunately, my opinion of Drew was soured very early on in the story and colored the rest of the novel for me.

I initially thought Drew was managing just to scrape by with his finances. His mother had been giving him some money, while he’s going to school and supporting a daughter. It’s when Drew returns home and eats a meal of steak and potatoes with Teal’s babysitter that the word “spoiled” jumped in my mind and stayed there for the duration of the story.

Then there is Drew’s fondness for the ladies. He was married to Teal’s mother, who conveniently leaves her family when she realizes that motherhood isn’t for her. Right before he travels back in time, he makes a pass at Teal’s babysitter. Then once he lands in 1853, he immediately begins fantasizing about Marianne. Personally, I like my romantic heroes to pick one woman and stick with them for the entire duration of the novel.

I wasn’t as displeased with Marianne, but I didn’t exactly find anything memorable about her either. Forced to marry Rafe to support her snobby family, I had a hard time picturing her in the 1850s. Her attitudes are ahead of her time, which made the resolution of the time travel element predictable.
Also annoying was the speed in which Drew realizes he has traveled through time. The very same chapter when he wakes up outside the hotel and encounters Marianne he makes the conclusion he’s in 1853. Not only that he puts that date together with a Yellow Fever epidemic that killed thousands in the city that year. A little disbelief on his part would have been nice.

This led me to believe that Drew is a history buff, but then when he consummates his relationship with Marianne, he is stunned to realize that she is a virgin. The passion must have scrambled his brain, since after all, Marianne is a society miss engaged to be married to a member of a powerful family. The odds of her not being a virgin are a considerable long shot.

A Hitch In Time does have some neat ideas, most notably Rafe’s relation to Drew. Also, Holden does a nice job of including historical details about New Orleans, including the devastating Yellow Fever epidemic of 1853. And while the story and the characters do get more intriguing as the story unfolds, it just wasn’t enough for me to overlook my first impressions. Holden’s latest should appeal to time travel fans, but just didn’t do it for this reader.


Wendy Looks Back: I remember this being a slog of a read for me.  Disappointing since, rereading my review, there were some really great elements to the story (Yellow Fever epidemic, a heroine set to marry hero's great-great grandfather, a hero who travels back in time!).  Holden was a mother-daughter writing duo.  They wrote five books together, the last one appearing in 2001.


Anna Richland said...

One of the things I'm enjoying (in addition to the reviews themselves) about your reposts of older reviews is looking at the old covers. These are what I think of as "working" covers from back in the day - not the over-the-top fantasy purple ponies covers from the 80s that people love to make fun of, but just average covers for regular books not that far back in the past. But still, they look dated enough to be interesting to me as an artistic thing, and I'm trying to figure out what component of the cover says "a decade ago" to me.

Maybe it's the gold font in this cover, and the watch - something says to me that it's an older book, not a 2013 or 2014 book. I think that font has fallen out of style with major publishers.

Certainly the flower trellis up the side might be in an inspirational (although those are usually gorgeous covers) or a traditional romance, but not in most mainstream books, would it?

Wendy said...

Anna: And we seem to see less "series tags" on single titles these days as well. I remember Jove pushing out a few "Time Passages" books during this period. It was the signal to readers that you were getting a time travel story :)