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Hourglass [Mass Market Paperback]

Barbara Metzger
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

March 6 2007 Signet Eclipse
Coryn, Earl of Ardeth, has spent an eternity in Hell. Fed up, he gambles with the Devil and wins a second chance: if he can find his heart, his soul, and his hourglass in six months, he can return to life.Then he meets Genie, a disgraced water-girl at the Battle of Waterloo. Now, her only hope is this crazy stranger-and she's half-terrified of and half-in-love with the eccentric earl. Together they have to find his humanity, her social acceptance, and overcome someone bent on destroying their lives.

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*Starred Review* After penning lively Regency romances, including The Duel (2005), Metzger tries something different and imaginative. Sir Coryn of Ardsley, called "Ar," is a knight during the Crusades who plunders and pillages. When he dies, he becomes one of many beings known as "Death." After ending people's lives for hundreds of years, Ar tricks Satan into giving him a chance to regain his mortality. The catch is, within six months Ar has to find a specific hourglass. Meanwhile, Genie Macklin is an outcast, finally finding her calling giving succor to wounded soldiers. Satan delivers Ar to the battlefield at Waterloo, where he meets Genie and, smitten, marries her. Even though Ar is perceived as a wealthy albeit mysterious nobleman, society won't accept his wife. So he uses some tricks he learned in the Immortal realm, which, unfortunately, make Genie more than a little distrustful of her new spouse. With memorable characters, a compelling plot, and smart dialogue, Metzger presents an extraordinary book that commands the reader's attention and lingers in the mind long after the last page is turned. Shelley Mosley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A touching romance, and all the parts work... July 31 2009
By Hayley Cann TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Someone gave me this book and when I read the synopsis at the back of the book I thought to myself that this could be a corn syrup fest, with high sugar and no nutritional value. But the author proved me wrong.

Imogene Hopewell, "Genie" to her friends is a war widow who managed to get herself so imbroiled in scandal, (of course she's a wronged innocent in all of this) no one will lift a finger to help her. Ar, or Sir Coryn Ardsley, is a minion of the Grim Reaper who managed to cheat the Devil and get a second chance to prove himself. He gets one look at Genie and decides that this is his opportunity to right his wrongs: he'll marry her to save her, because get this, he's organised it so he will be recognised as an Earl and of course, he's filthy rich.

And this is why this book doesn't rate any higher. The formula has been chewed, masticated and regurgitated to death. Some elements are just so darn cheesy, you'll feel as though you just ate cheesecake. That being said, if you can ignore the lackluster parts, you'll find that everything else works like a charm. The writing especially in the last part of the book is evocative and touching. The romantic conflict comes alive at about that moment too and even if it really is the last half that really is good, it really is a very good last half. It makes up for the slow (ahem! silly...) beginning. Some later plot devices also feel a bit thrown in, but it's all in good fun, and again, while they're not extremely credible or powerful, they give rise to emotions that are...

So a very good read, for those of us who aren't allergic to corn syrup.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mediaeval Knight gets a second chance at life - in the Regency period April 26 2007
By Helen Hancox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is definitely different to your average Regency romance. Firstly there's an element of fantasy in it - our hero, who meets the heroine at the Battle of Waterloo, is actually a Knight from the Crusades. He's been working as one of the Grim Reapers for Satan for the last 500 years but wants a chance to atone for his sins as a Knight by living on earth again as a human and doing good deeds with all the wealth that he has amassed. He bargains with Satan and wins - he gets six months as a human and if he can find the special hourglass Satan has put on earth, he can live his full life span.

Despite the theoretically rather dark and disturbing initial content (Satan, death, grim reapers) this book is actually funny. It's not laugh-out-loud but it has a lot of amusing one-liners and the characters are great. Our heroine, Genie, a pregnant widow who is shunned by good ladies since her husband's death, is wonderfully pragmatic. She meets Ardeth and knows there's something distinctly odd about him (he seems to have a few magical powers, speaks strangely and doesn't know some basic things, like how to eat with a knife and fork) but she also sees that he is genuine in his attempts to help and care for others and she throws in her lot with him.

Poor Ardeth, however, believes that to be noble and moral he has to allow Genie her full year's mourning for her dead husband, despite the fact that he marries her by chapter four of the book. Genie doesn't have any affection for her late husband and feels that she has no way of repaying Ardeth his kindness except through conjugal rights - which he won't accept. Ardeth knows he only has six months on earth and he wants to set Genie up for a happy future with her son, but equally he knows that will mean he won't get to consummate his marriage because six months isn't long enough. However this element of tension doesn't take over the story - the seduction side of this book is very much left to the reader's imagination without any detailed descriptions of love scenes.

We follow the couple's introduction into the haute ton in England, Ardeth's attempt to bring about a reconciliation between Genie and her sister Lorraine (a historical error by the author - Lorraine was not used as a name until the 1870s) and later with her family. We see attempts made on both Genie's and Ardeth's lives and their establishment of a community at Ardeth Keep. Ardeth's charitable works are an important part of the book and one of the ways in which he tries to atone for his past sins.

The love story part of the book is very gently written. There's no annoying 'Big Misunderstanding' or hatred between the characters, we just follow them as they slowly get to know one another and as Ardeth begins to learn what's important in this new life. Genie is great, with her ability to see beyond the apparent strangeness of her husband to the honourable and kind man, and the crow Olive, really a gremlin, with his intelligence and speech, is an enjoyable side character.

Those who are Regency purists won't like the fantasy element of this book. However the historical detail is well researched and the language is mostly authentic (apart from some modern American phrases that creep in) and for those who are willing to read a little outside the Regency norm this is an enjoyable book.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book. Copyright Helen Hancox 2007
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hi, I actually read the book... March 17 2007
By E. A. Montgomery - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Barbara Metzger has become one of my favorite authors. The Hourglass is a departure from her recent series. While it is set in the Regency world, it gives barely a nod to society. (My sole complaint on this title might be that the time spent there seems out of place). The story unfolds so naturally and engagingly that it's a shame to reveal any of it at all.

Lord Coryn Ardsley died during the Crusades, a man not given to introspection or moral dilemma. As a result, he's been employed during his afterlife. Unlike those surrounding him, Coryn has managed to retain a sense of himself. Over the centuries he's prepared for his return to the world of the living and the opportunity of a second chance. His third good deed arrives in the form of recent widow Genie Macklin. Alone, expecting a child, destitute, she can't understand why a man like Lord Ardsley would offer her a marriage in name only. With her limited choices, she agrees to wed this strange man, so unlike any other she's known. He seems to truly put others above his self interest, to sincerely want to do good in the world. But can someone like that be real? Especially when the shortest distance to good can seem so harsh?
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars devilishly different type of Regency March 11 2007
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
He knows he committed atrocities while fighting in the name of God during what foolish mankind called the Crusades. However, his eternal punishment is to be a Death collector, a minion of the Grim Reaper. Unlike most if not all of his peers, Ar Death remembers when he was Sir Coryn of Ardsley filled with a heart and soul. He could plead with his superior Sir Grimness to relieve him of duty as he believes he is a victim of battle fatigue, but that means ending up as a permanent resident of an even worse place, Hell. Still his only hope for salvation lies with gambling with His Eminence the Devil. The deal is simple six months on earth to find his missing humanity and freedom or more likely failure and eternity as one of the Devil's minion.

Imogene "Genie" Macklin tends to the wounded at Waterloo while pondering her future as an undesirable destitute pregnant soldier's widow though her preference is to not think at all. Also healing the cannon fodder is Coryn, claiming to be an Earl, as he rips into haughty aristocratic Major Willeford. Genie and Coryn meet over a dying soldier and he realizes she is a lady of quality who could enhance his lies. When he proposes she accepts because she must think of her baby. Though they fall in love with one another, the sands in his HOURGLASS are slipping into a future of eternal condemnation if he fails to find his humanity.

This paranormal romance grips the audience from the opening gamble until the final confrontation with Ar's former boss. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action yet most critical to this enjoyable supernatural historical is the belief in Hell, the Grim Reaper, and the soul as described by Barbara Metzger. Romance fans who appreciate a devilishly different type of Regency will want to read this delightful second chance at life tale.

Harriet Klausner
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting Paranormal Passion! March 29 2007
By Beverly Romance Books - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Barbara Metzger breaks away from her usual style and has written a uniquely beautiful sensual paranormal regency romance. Visiting hell as Ar Death, minion of the Grim Reaper, Sir Coryn recalls a time when he was the knight Sir Coryn of Ardsley, who lived a life of battles and sins during the time of the Crusades. He is sick of death. He plays a game of chance with the devil. If he wins, he can return to the world of the living and prove he can do better. He has six months to find a symbol of himself. He returns at the very end of the battle of Waterloo as Sir Coryn, Earl of Ardeth, with his side-kick gremlin friend, turned crow, Olive. Olive is to aid in his attempt to find his symbol. Thinking it is an hourglass, a symbol of the sands of time, a tool used as Ar of Death, they take off searching the battlefield for the hourglass. While searching Coryn comes across the newly widowed, pregnant Imogene Macklin. Genie is no longer welcome amongst the officer wives and a family scandal years ago has estranged her from her family. Alone, pregnant and poor, Coryn is taken in by her beauty and need. He marries her and they return with Olive to England to set up their home and take up aiding displaced people and doing good works. Genie is afraid to take a chance with Coryn at first, as so newly widowed she is stunned and suspicious of his generosity. Coryn is taken by her beauty, but more so with her inner strength. He begins to fall in love and struggles with his feelings of desire and passion. He feels he will be returning to death in six months and the thought of loving and then leaving would be too painful. Genie takes up keeping his home and life organized, logging in the many hourglasses that arrive from all over the world. The one special hourglass continues to elude them. As Coryn works to help others, he feels he must do more for Genie than marriage and accepting her child as his heir. He also helps her mend the rift in her family relationships. Little does Coryn realize that the symbol of his humanity is not the hourglass, but the love he and Genie have for each other and the goodness that is created from this deep undying love. Will Coryn discover his symbol of humanity before it is too late? The Hourglass is a delightfully fresh, beautiful story that is witty, sensual, absorbing and heartwarming, proving that true love can cross all boundaries and time.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 stars April 7 2007
By AK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ar, a member of the Dead Letters, aka, Grim Reapers, gambles with the devil to regain his humanity. After winning, the devil double crosses him and gives Ar six months in which to find the symbol of his office or face damnation. Before Ar can protest, he finds himself alive again, near the battlefields of Waterloo, with a newly liberated gremlin as his companion. Soon, he meets a disgraced, young, pregnant widow and marries her out of kindness. Yet, as the weeks pass, Ar finds himself growing to love Genie, his wife, and though his powers baffle her, she feels something in kind for this strange man who has defended and befriended her so well. However, will death claim its due, or will Ar find happiness is a question that hangs over them every moment.

**** This book reminded me of the classic film, Death Takes a Holiday and of the first, and best book in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, Bearing an Hourglass. The premise, though not wholly new, is one seldom explored and is very well executed. Ar's pet gremlin is an added bonus, providing an amusing note to balance out the necessary moodiness. ****
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