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ARC Review: A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris

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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


Alessandra D’Angeli is in need of an adventure. Tired of her sixteenth-century life in Italy and homesick for her time-traveling cousin, Cat, who visited her for a magical week and dazzled her with tales of the future, Alessandra is lost. Until the stars hear her plea.

One mystical spell later, Alessandra appears on Cat’s Beverly Hills doorstep five hundred years in the future. Surrounded by confusing gadgets, scary transportation, and scandalous clothing, Less is hesitant to live the life of a twenty-first century teen…until she meets the infuriating—and infuriatingly handsome—surfer Austin Michaels. Austin challenges everything she believes in…and introduces her to a world filled with possibility.

With the clock ticking, Less knows she must live every moment of her modern life while she still can. But how will she return to the drab life of her past when the future is what holds everything she’s come to love?
 

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!

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16 comments

  1. I loved MSSSC and am counting down the hours till I can buy this one. After that one book I'm a fan forever! Need to read Taste the Heat soon too. Great review Jess but now I'm even more impatient so ummhh yea thanks!

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    1. YAY! Rachel is great! And writes such awesome books!

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  2. First, that cover is adorable and I love him. This series sounds like so much fun and I know a lot of people really love it. Hopefully I can start it one day soon! Great review!

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    1. I love him too!!! He's very delicious! LOL. I think you'll really enjoy these when you get a chance!

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  3. I swear, you never fail to make me smile. And giggle. And it's possible I quoted this review to no less then 3 family members since you posted it...

    Thank you SO much for being such a light and support to me. Love you to pieces!

    xoxo
    Rachel

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    1. :D Love you back girl! And aww that made me feel so special!!!

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  4. AHHH! I can't wait to read this. I preordered mine so it better magically appear on my Kindle at exactly 12:00 tomorrow! :)

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    1. YAY! Meredith I can't wait to hear what you think! It's adorable! And you're going to love how cute Less and Austin are!

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  5. I really enjoyed MSSSC, and wanted to read this, but couldn't fit it in. It sounds even better than the first. Awesome review!

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    1. Thanks Andrea! I can't wait until you do get a chance to read it! It's so adorable! :D

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  6. Do I have to read the first one to get this one? I loved Taste the Heat and I have both of these books, I just need to find time for them...so happy it was a 5 star for you!

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    1. You don't *have* to Nereyda, but I think I would have preferred reading the other first. I can't wait for you to read them!

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  7. Awesome review! Alligators and monks? That would be interesting! I Loved this book too! I adored Austin and loved the way the relationship built up.

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    1. Hahaha, thanks Chelsea. I would so read a book about alligators and monks if Rachel was writing it. She'd rock it. :D I agree- I loved their relationship!

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  8. I actually haven't read the first book in this series either yet. I have heard many amazing things about it though, so I am looking forward to picking up the books. And I am now not worried about the sequel. It sounds fantastic. I can't wait to dive into this past world and meet all the characters, especially Austin (YUM!) and Less! And I really enjoy self-discovery books, and I'm happy this is one of them. I'm glad you enjoyed this, Jessica! It makes it so much easier for me to look forward to without the "sequel nerves". Awesome, perfect review! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

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    1. Oh I hear you on sequel nerves girl! But nope! This worked out perfectly! I can't wait to read the first one!

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