ARC Review: A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris
A Tale of Two Centuries (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #2)
by: Rachel Harris
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Time Travel
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by the publisher and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 320 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Where do I even start? I first saw this book quite some time ago (I think it was when the cover was first revealed) and I instantly fell in love. I loved the cover, but even more- I LOVED the blurb! All of my favorite elements are in this book: Time travel, magic, Italy, romance, and a hot surfer boy just to name a few. This book is absolutely a bunch of preciousness. Seriously I absolutely adored it. I am so proud to be on Rachel's FlirtSquad because I love helping promote her awesomeness. I also loved reading Taste The Heat, Rachel's adult novel. SO good.
So: let me simplify this for you. Rachel writes it? I read it. End of story. Hands down. It could be about alligators in Taiwan falling in love with monks. If she wrote it- I'd read it. Why? Rachel is a fantastic storyteller for one. She does such a great job with setting- she knows how to give us readers the perfect amount of description, she doesn't overload us with it, and she doesn't skimp on us either. I always feel so attuned to the scenes and I love when I as a reader feel like I am an imaginary character standing right with the others. Secondly, Rachel does a great job with character development. By the end of the book I felt a connection with each of her characters and I was heartbroken it was over because I wasn't ready to stop experiencing their journey with them!
So, A Tale of Two Centuries! I will admit, I hadn't read My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century before this so I was a tad bit confused at the very beginning. So note to those of you who are still with me after me talking about alligators and monks: READ THAT ONE FIRST! It just helps clarify some things. I was still able to jump right in and understand the magical elements, but I was confused when the book was referring to Cat as Patience, etc. Our main character this time around is Alessandra, or Less. We first meet her in sixteenth century Italy and she is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Matteo, the man she is in love with. Their rendezvous does not go according to plan, leaving Less absolutely heartbroken. However, Less is very non-confrontational. Instead of marching up to Matteo and giving him what for, she simply flees, succumbing to her emotions. I really loved Less- she is sweet, caring, and dreams of acting. She is SO much fun to watch once she time travels to modern times. She not only has culture shock, but she has complete century shock! She is not used to how girls dress, how people speak, and how boys and girls don't have chaperones to be together. In turn, Alessandra is very proper and polite, which leads others to believe she's rather uptight.
"Ah. That would be the ill-mannered coachman of my yellow horseless carriage. He requires payment for escorting me from the chaotic theater of etched handprints and strange creatures, but I am afraid my new trousers did not come lined with money." He beeps again. "Any chance you have a deer or a goat lying about?"
A squiggle appears on Cat's forehead. "Deer or goat?"
"Hmm, is that not right?" I ask, pulling on my ear. I was almost certain that was what he said. "He informed me the ride was twenty something- I thought he said bucks. Could it have been ducks?" I scrunch my nose. "Are waterfowl a popular currency in the twenty first century?"
Enter Austin. Oh, boy. Alessandra meets Austin at school and he is a bit of an ass to start. He is condescending and rather rude. School is also not at the top of his priority list. Alessandra is forced to work on a project with him. I think what I love most about Alessandra and Austin's interactions is that they challenge each other. He can see that she longs to let loose and have the courage to express herself. He calls her out on it and for the first time, we see just how passionate of a reaction he gets out of her. She in turn, calls him on his crap- telling him that she doesn't believe for a minute he's as nonchalant and uncaring as he makes himself out to be. Austin then decides to issue her a challenge- he'll do the project, if she agrees to let him show her how to loosen up- to be more like him. However, the more time spent together, the more Austin's carefully crafted façade starts to fall apart. Less gets him to open up and there are times she can see the glimpses of vulnerability in his eyes. Austin is resentful of his father due to a rather large event involving his mother. There was a point where Austin used to take care about school, doing well, and pleasing his family. Those times are long gone, and I think Austin sees a bit of the old him in Alessandra.
I love the change we see in Alessandra. She is no longer the timid, shy, non-confrontational girl we met at the start. However, Alessandra has trouble finding the right balance between becoming a bit more assertive and going wild. Austin realizes this is partly his fault and tells her that he has fallen for who she is already, not the girl she's trying so hard to be. Alessandra however, has never felt more alive than when she has spent time with Austin and she loves that he respects her.
Whew do these two have some serious chemistry! The buildup between them was absolutely delicious and when it finally happened I think I squealed. However, Alessandra's time is not permanent- she was told by the gypsy that allowed her to travel that she would see three signs: at the end of the third she would be back to take her home. Her cousin Cat, gave her a warning about spending time with Austin. Cat has been through this once and knows that her time is limited.
Cat, who you may have already met from My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, is such a fun character. She is still hurting over what happened at the end of the first novel and is afraid to let someone new in. She clearly has a connection with the new guy, Lucas, but is afraid to act upon it. She is afraid things won't be permanent and that he won't stick around. I can't blame her for one minute for guarding her heart.
However, this is Less's tale of self-discovery and how she realizes that strength doesn't come from others, but lies within.
Overall, this book made me smile so many times- Rachel has created such strong, impressionable characters, a fun and exciting plot, and I cannot wait for the next book in the series!