An immortal man meets a woman with more than a passing resemblance to the love he lost a century and a half ago in Printy’s fantasy-romance debut.
Jack Hammond may be 170 years old, but bartenders still card him. With the perpetual appearance of someone college-age, Jack maintains a low profile by periodically relocating. His latest retreat is Portland, Maine, where he gets a job at a bookstore specializing in antique books. But Jack’s quiet life is disturbed when he has a run-in with coffee-shop employee and student Leah Winters. Leah’s a dead ringer for Lydia, his fiancee who died back in the mid-19th century but whom Jack still misses dearly. Jack isn’t the only one fascinated; as it turns out, he may be the man whom Lydia’s (literally) dreamt about for a number of years. At the same time, Jack’s repeatedly seeing another immortal, Artagan, who apparently remembers him. Artagan tells Jack of a council of immortals with close ties to Death who “orchestrate” deaths of mortals. Jack’s newfound love for Leah, meanwhile, may have a snag, because there’s no possibility of the two growing old together. But a menace lurks: immortal Vita is gunning for Jack and his family line. Having just learned that there is indeed a way for someone to kill an immortal, Jack knows that both he and Leah are in danger. The novel focuses on the romance and doesn’t bog down the plot with details of Jack’s long life. There are welcome flashbacks to his youth and family, but Jack’s first-person narrative doesn’t expound on his immortality—even he doesn’t understand it. He’s definitely not a vampire, and gradual revelations from Artagan, including Leah’s dreams, make for riveting turns. Despite the protagonists-in-peril thread, the book shines brightest as a romance, and Printy’s luscious descriptions are on point. “The salty scent,” during Jack and Leah’s walk, “mixes with the sweet fragrance of the deep-pink sea roses that border the path.” The story’s missing a bit of nuance, especially details about old-fashioned Jack coping with the contemporary world; he’s got an iPod, but his playlist disappointingly remains a mystery.
The hero-heroine couple ignites an absorbing plot, with an ending that promises more to come.