Author ~ C.B. Lewis
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 15th May 2015
Genre ~ Historical M/M Romance, Time travel
Badly wounded and on the run from his WWII Hungarian brigade, Janos Nagy stumbles through a temporal gateway to the future. Suddenly stranded in Manchester, England, 2041, Janos wants answers about a crazy world he doesn’t recognize.
Dieter Schmidt, flamboyant historian/linguist for the Temporal Research Institution has those answers, but the TRI is a neutral entity, set up to verify historical events under a strict code of noninterference. That doesn’t stop Dieter from taking Janos under his protection. Trust doesn’t come easy to Janos, who came from a time when revealing his secrets could get him killed, but the two men slowly build a tentative friendship with a possibility for more. But Janos’s continued presence in the future and Dieter’s persistence raise questions about the limits of the noninterference policy.
Since the rules have been bent once, one agent sees no reason why he can't push them further, and he travels back to 1914 to make a few changes of his own. Under Janos’s guidance, Dieter must leap back in time to stop the rogue agent from changing the past and risking everyone’s future—if he can survive history.
Many many years ago, back in the heady days of the British Grammar School system, I had a term of illness where I was allowed NOT to do PE. While my class mates were staggering around in the mud with hockey sticks I was directed - with apologies for missing the treat! Hah! - to the LIBRARY where they had a whole shelf full of books anthologising the world’s best science fiction and fantasy short stories. Some of them, with their sophisticated manipulation of hard science, were baffling but others were inspiring and I particularly enjoyed the ones that played with time, alternate history and temporal paradox. I remember listening to the rain beat on the windows as I read faster and faster hoping to finish the book before PE was over and I’d have to rejoin my class. I could have done with a time machine then – but, of course, I had read A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury and knew the perils of those things. So does the author of Time Waits and exploits that potential for disaster quite brilliantly.
First of all, a warning. I wouldn’t class this as hard sci fi. If you are a physicist you aren’t going to be able to nit pick the science. But then neither of the protagonists whose points of view we share understand the science either so that’s fine with me.
Janos is a soldier conscripted into the Hungarian army and from there into the regiments of the Third Reich. He is not a happy man at all and at the beginning of the book is on the run, horribly wounded and expecting death. For explosive action the opening few pages reminded me of the opening of The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie, than which there is no higher praise.
Deiter is an out, proud and pretty linguist and historian attached to a government funded research establishment. The Temporal Research Institution uses insane amounts of power to send small teams of highly trained operatives back in time to observe significant historical events and find out the truth behind them. I have to admit that just the idea of that made me bounce a bit in my seat. Deiter prepares the teams, coaching their languages, checking their clothing and accessories to avoid anachronisms, then stands by to help out if there are problems. The cardinal rule is that the teams should do nothing to affect the outcome of the event they are sent to observe and tight security surrounds the Institution and is in place to prevent discovery of the opening between past and present. That Janos blunders into this opening, having grabbed a gun from one of the team, is a potential disaster. Terrified, Janos seems likely to mow down anyone who approaches him, so Deiter bites the bullet and goes to try and talk him down.
I had been disposed to like both protagonists right from the start but this scene just blew me away. For a start it’s hard to tell which of them is more terrified. Janos is fighting for his life and is so sick he is hardly open to reason. Deiter knows that if he doesn’t disarm him Janos will kill the returning team, they are on a deadline and if the connection closes the team will be lost in the past and if there is another such disaster the Institution would lose its funding. Everything is on the line in those few moments. A climax at the beginning of the book – yes, and it works.
Action over for a while, the romance begins its necessarily slow development as both men have to overcome HUGE misgivings. Janos has seen the awful things that can happen if you follow your true inclinations. Deiter, though unable to deny his attraction, is scared silly of a man who tried to kill him. Not the most promising of starts but it’s such a plausible and satisfying development. As the romance and the temporal plots begin to merge, the tension ratchets up again until I couldn’t put the book down. This was a rare “read ‘til 4am on a work night” page turner and I don’t regret my heavy eyes the next day.
So to round up - an exciting adventure solidly based in historical fact, a tense emotional journey as the past locks horns with the present, interesting philosophical ideas on the nature of time, loveable protagonists and a touching relationship built with care and concern. I enjoyed this book SO MUCH, and I think some of you will too.