PJV QUICKIE: I have to admit, I have not read MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY and I was a little leery before picking up A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES, but there was no need to worry, it was a great stand-alone. But, I do think reading the first book would have pushed my enjoyability up even more. This says something, since I was blown away by A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES. I expected a sweet, light read and got a book, I just couldn’t put down until I turned that last page. Hello, Rachel Harris…meet your new fan.
Review: Rachel Harris did something different with her novel that is subtle yet very poignant. She weaved in believability to every scene and setting, in the way the characters spoke, interacted and viewed the world. The story revolves around the character of Alessandra, Less to her friends and family, who is a 16th century girl, living in Italy, drowning under the restrictions of 16th century life. She has hope that upon marriage she will gain a bit of freedom, but the moment the man she had hopes of giving her that life, turns to another, more influential woman, she loses hope with her chances and begins contemplating changing her fate.
Two years earlier her “cousin” had unexpectedly shown up at her doorstep, claiming she was from the future and had been sent here for an adventure by a gypsy girl named Reyna. Cat exposed Less to independent thought, passion and words like freedom. Less will never forget those few weeks with Cat and now she yearns for her own gypsy adventure. Her wish comes true and Less is thrust into the future, into Cat’s world. Two years have passed for Less, only two months for Cat.
If you can imagine what it would be like for a 16 year old girl, from the 16th century to experience a 21st century world, you’ll just get a taste of that in A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES. Harris didn’t linger on the usual, she didn’t sit there and have Less freak out about cellphones and toilets, she mentioned them, but Less was prepared for a different world and battled through them without tons of descriptions from the author.
What I thought was fun, was that there was a lot of focus on language. Teenspeak, as Harris put it. Contractions and colloquialisms. I thought maybe this was the silliest part of the novel, since Less originally did not speak English, she spoke Italian and through the magic of her gypsy adventure, suddenly understood and spoke English. Yet, I’m assuming the gypsy magic gave her English translation…just not really modern, because 16th century language was a bit different no matter what language you spoke. Prithee tell thee…because Less did talk a bit dated, but not THAT dated as I would assume a 16th century woman would. It was my only hang-up with the novel, even though it was a fun hang-up, but am I really being picky about the way a time-traveler would talk? Probably. Sorry, I guess it was just because Harris focused on speech a lot, so it had me thinking about what would really happen.
Yet, as I bring this up, it does lead into what I thought was the best part of this novel. The fact that Less and Cat, the two main female leads of the story never strayed from their characters. They were so very 3D, I could almost believe Harris had two friends, one from the 16th Century and one from Los Angeles that she used to model these two girls. They stayed in form throughout the whole novel, stayed true to their base beliefs and also their “speech-patterns.” The latter being pretty tough though, since one moment Less is talking like a 16th century girl:
“Ah. That would be the ill-mannered coachman of my yellow horseless carriage. He requires payment for escorting me from the chaotic theater of etched handprints and strange creatures, but I am afraid my new trousers did not come lined with money.” He beeps again.
“Any chance you have a deer or goat lying about?”
(The taxi driver had asked her for twenty bucks, hence the deer reference) Then moves on to Cat’s “Teenspeak”:
“Hell, no, but your mirror is.” She wiggles her shoulders in a display of disinterest, then waves an exaggerated farewell. “Buh-bye now.”
It seems funny, but it felt pretty real, because there were no hiccups. Less never used a modern phrase, unless she was trying to speak modern, which slowly transitioned during the novel. It was quite a task that Harris undertook and she did it with remarkable accuracy. It made the characters so believable and real.
This believability was also paired with the characters knowledge base about certain subjects and the way they talked about them. It again added so much believability to the story that I felt like I was reading about real people. It was small stuff, Less in acting class and the way her teachers engaged her. It didn’t read like Harris had just pulled up an “acting basics” web site page and regurgitated info there, like some stories seem to do. It was more like Harris had a friend that was an actress and opened up her brain to find the juicy bits. Then the way Austin spoke about surfing and described the little bits of how it feels to be on a board. I read Rachel’s bio, she is not from “surfing parts”, so it made it so much more. It might not have been right, if a real surfer read it, but the way Austin described it in the novel made me believe it, much like if I was sitting down talking with someone that loved to surf.
These things that seem so small in the novel are what made me fall in love with this book. It was just a believability that was in every detail of the novel. It was a phenomenal piece.
Overall the book was light, amusing and entertaining. The romances in the book were sweet and swoon-worthy, very swoon-worthy! I sighed and laughed out loud and I thought the ending was perfect and light and just right for this type of book. And you would think with the light tone of the novel it would be predictable, but it wasn’t. Less kept surprising me, she kept true to herself but she engaged in fun ways that had me laughing out loud most of the time.
The funny scene where someone grabs Less’ butt on the dance floor:
“Excuse me,” I snap, not feeling at all guilty for interrupting their table’s conversation, “but the beauty of this world is that I don’t have to accept such vulgar behavior—especially not from distasteful little men like you.” I have no clue where the word little came from, for the man is far from that. Nevertheless, I carry on, throwing my shoulders back and folding my arms across my chest. “You, sir, de!led my person with your unwelcome advance, and from now on I ask that you—uh, I ask that you…”
And it is about this time that I lose steam.
Rachel Harris did a wonderful job with this novel, I’m tempted to go back and read the first book in the series, which focuses on Cat. Don’t hold her name against her, I know her name is Cat Crawford, just look past it, oh yee fans of the NIGHT HUNTRESS series. She isn’t a vampire hunter wanna-be with a hot British husband…she is a funny human living in Hollywood that just happened to time-travel for a couple of weeks.
This is a great novel for fans of Young Adult Romance and Young Adult Fantasy. The time-travel aspect is the fantasy part of the novel, but since most of it is based in the modern day, it isn’t too over-powering. Fans of contemporary romance should also enjoy. There is alcohol consumed in this novel, but it is not promoted. Other then that, squeaky clean, suitable for 13+. Fans of authors like Stephanie Perkins and Sarah Dessen should enjoy.
The Tale of Two Centuries Giveaway
A $25 Fandango Gift Card, Temporary Wild Pink or Blue Hair Dye, A DVD of Back to the Future, a set of Tarot Cards, and Beverly Hills themed piece of jewelry.
Rachel is offering anyone who buys a copy of ATOTC during release week AND sends their receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org, will get exclusive swag including an Austin trading card AND a ticket to Alessandra’s play, along with an Austin Makes Me Blush pin and a signed book plate.