Lady of the Stars
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Pages: 85
Goes Well With: A steaming mug of Earl Grey tea

Ever since seeing The Final Countdown as a kid, I’ve always had a soft spot for movies and books involving time travel. Case in point, I think the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is a work of sheer genius. Unfortunately, Lady of the Stars by Linda Banche is no Outlander.

We open in present-day England—Chesire, to be exact. Caroline Blake is on holiday, staying at an historic manor that had been converted to a tourist estate. As she’s exploring the grounds, Caroline finds an old gazebo, and, walking through the door, she’s suddenly transported back in time to 1817. While there, she meets Richard Newland—a man who bears an eerie resemblance to her deceased husband in more ways than one. Caroline also meets Miss Chiswick, who works as Richard’s mother’s companion—and who wants to become Mrs. Newland at any cost. Lady of the Stars also involves an old Newland family legend, where the Duke of Belthorn—a relative of Richard’s—somehow sends a “messenger” to find his heir.

Lady of the Stars is only 85 pages long, and Banche does an admirable job of trying to fit as much romance and suspense as possible into such a short span. But, unfortunately, it all seems rushed because of it. Richard accepts Caroline’s story of time travel all too readily. He may be a scientist and mathematician, but something tells me that someone from the Victorian era would have a hard time comprehending wormholes and the space-time continuum, no matter how intelligent he may be. Banche also tries to create a villain in Miss Chiswick, but in such a short story we don’t really get to see much of her villainy except through exposition.

And then there’s the Duke of Belthorn’s legend. Frankly, I didn’t get it. I read the chapter regarding the legend several times, and I simply came out confused each time. I don’t mind plot twists and intricate plots, but I don’t really enjoy not knowing what’s going on (that might be why I don’t enjoy M. Night Shyamalan movies). I think Banche would have been better off making Lady of the Stars a little longer, in order to expound on the legend rather than trying to cram the whole thing into a few paragraphs.

After reading a few other ebooks, I was a little wary regarding the love scenes (try as I might to forget it, I was scarred for life by Bound by Love), but it turns out that I didn’t have to be afraid at all. The one love scene lasted a mere two (short) paragraphs. And while nicely romantic and endearingly funny, it wasn’t very steamy at all.

All in all, this entire book was—and please forgive my colloquialism here—okay. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it wasn’t a disaster, either. I think Lady of the Stars would have worked better if it were longer; but, unlike other Lunch Time Ebooks I’ve reviewed, it’s not because I didn’t have time to get emotionally invested in the characters. No, this time I needed the extra length in order to fully embrace the plot. You just can’t half-ass time travel stories—which is why, I think, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books are almost as tall as I am and the series itself consists of six novels. Banche simply tried to do too much in too little time.

All told, though, reading Lady of the Stars was an enjoyable way to pass the time, and it goes well with a nice mug of Earl Grey tea.

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