Hourglass Mass Market Paperback – Mar 6 2007
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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
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?
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.
Sir Coryn of Ardsley, was a knight fighting during the Crusades. He was NOT a nice fellow and suffice it to say, didn't make it to Heaven. Centuries after he was killed he is known as "Death", a being that brings souls over to the other side; oftentimes to Satan's domain. Hoping for an opportunity to atone for his misbegotten former life, Ardsley tricked Satan into granting him a chance to regain his mortality. Furious at losing, Satan dumps him into the battle at Waterloo with the stipulation that within six months, he must find his heart and a special hourglass or spend eternity by Satan's side.
Genie Macklin has also found herself in on the Waterloo battlefield. Widowed, pregnant, penniless, and disowned by her own family Genie was caring for the wounded and shunned by all as she could d not convince anyone that she had actually been married. Learning of her plight and more than a little interested Ardsley proposes a marriage of convenience primarily to help her out, not knowing that she may just hold the key to his mortality. More than a little frightened of the mysterious and wealthy Earl who appeared out nowhere giving aid to the wounded; Genie accepts his proposal. Definitely attracted and more than a little scared of her somewhat bizarre spouse and his pet crow, Genie's distrust soon turns into love. Only adversaries from the past are not about to let either find the happiness they both deserve.
This was one of those rare books one comes across that capture you from page one and never let you go until the very last page is turned. Genie had been betrayed, cast out of home, forced into a marriage she was not looking for, to a man who wanted to keep his bachelor life and never told anyone he was married. After he was killed in the bed of his latest paramour, Genie was ostracized by the military women who followed their husbands to war. All this added up to Genie's lack of trust - especially when it came to men.
Ardsley, was an enigma. He appeared out of nowhere with a pet crow in the middle of the most horrendous battle introducing himself as an Earl where he proceeded to help, care, and save the wounded horses, in addition to saving wounded common soldiers. Having been a berserker in his previous life, Ardsley had sworn to never harm another living using his accumulated wealth for the betterment of humanity. Genie was both frightened to death at some of her enigmatic husband's more eccentric behaviors (a bit of magic he picked up in the other realm), yet couldn't help falling in love with his caring and gentle side.
Metzger must have had a ball coming up with this one and working the gremlin into the story that crossed over with Ar was a fabulous idea. The gremlin (very ugly and scary beings) was talked into becoming a crow (less obvious to scare people). The crow - called Olive - provided a lot of humorous dialogs and outrageously funny situations. But what was truly enjoyable was the way the author let the two leads take their time in letting themselves fall in like, respect, and then love. She also provides a mystery as to who is trying to kill both Ardsley and/or Genie, as well as providing a very emotional moment as Ardsley bargains with another "Death" being to save a child's life. One thing for sure, there was not a boring moment in this book complete with engaging characters, witty and inspired dialogs, and a perfect plot - I highly recommend this book!
Marilyn Rondeau, for [...]