Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Doug Walsh

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-73274-670-1
Publisher: Snoke Valley Books

A bicycling trip around the world remains a beleaguered couple’s last chance to save their marriage from boredom, deceit, and time-traveling lovers from the past.

In this novel, Edward and Kara Vaughan are a Seattle couple nearing age 30 and married for almost six years. Their existence has already devolved into a monotonous routine, complete with a room of “forgotten hobbies” and a dwindling sex life. About to hand her husband divorce papers, Kara is shocked when he proposes they take the journey she’s long dreamed about—cycling around the world. She sees this as a chance to rekindle their relationship, but the impetus for Edward, a workaholic businessman, is merely the unceremonious way he quit his job after being passed up for a promotion. The last-minute trip begins with them struggling against the Montana winter, but what they later encounter on their odyssey poses a more unusual challenge. Accompanied by a strange blue shimmer are lovelorn anachronisms thrust into the present day, time travelers connected to Kara’s and Edward’s past lives. Some seem content that Kara has moved beyond them. But a religious pickpocket and forger from the Renaissance era named Alessio is not ready to let her go, leading to a showdown in Florence with Edward for Kara’s love or, barring that, her life. Walsh, a veteran of video game strategy guides, imbues his romance with as much action as any game he’s ever peeled back the secrets of. With the settings ranging from Washington state and Canada to London, Belgium, Paris, and, eventually, Italy, the novel captures the intense details of the trip, including the couple’s chafing thighs and exhaustion on their bikes; their emotionally heightened fights and sniping; and their moments of romantic rejuvenation in new, exotic surroundings. Despite his unwillingness to acquiesce like his fellow reincarnated brethren, Alessio is a sympathetic villain, driven by the same unrelenting pride and fear as Edward, a fitting physical obstacle for the couple to overcome if they wish to break the pattern of heartbreak. The book boasts an impressive knowledge of cycling as well as the history it draws from, be it Renaissance Italy or the time of the French Canadian voyageurs, a pleasant balance to its more outlandish conflicts.

Travel, both conventional and through time, brings rousing action, romance, and unorthodox marriage counseling.