Review

Review: Virginia and the Vagabond by Skyler Frey (2020)

Time Traveler’s Network, Book 1

Heat Factor: Three short sex scenes with a few details

Character Chemistry: Instalove based on shared trauma

Plot: Downton Abbey, but with time travelers

Overall: So much drama


Let me set the stage for you. Here we are, back again at Downton Abbey, before all the nonsense. We meet our heroine, Virginia, a servant in a great house. 

Virginia is actually a lady’s maid, not a scullery maid, but Daisy is awesome.

She’s the lady’s maid to Lady Lara, whose soon-to-be fiancé is arriving today!

Except Virginia recognizes Eric-the-fiancé, from his work with…Lars von Trier. 

Oh shit!

Add in a mean sister, an evil maid, and a stodgy butler, and you’ve got the picture. 

Ok, you’ve sort of got the picture. 

Except in this version, Matthew jilts Lady Mary to be with her maid. Things get messy, but it’s better than him dying (after miraculously recovering from paralysis and finally finding true love) in the stupidest season finale I’ve ever witnessed. I’m not bitter or anything. 

Maybe I should back up, now that you have the correct mental images for the characters. 

Oh wait! I forgot the Valet with a Secret!

Anyways.

Virginia and Eric are both time travelers – involuntary time travelers with no way back to the future. They have both been in the early 20th century for several years now and meet by chance in 1912. Since Eric was famous in the future (our present), Virginia immediately recognizes him, and is able to indicate to him that she is also from the future. 

Once Virginia and Eric connect, it’s instant sparks – so much so that I was a little bit skeptical about this book as a romance, because they were in LURVE right from the beginning. While the going was a bit rocky at times I will say that Frey pulled off this part of the story. Virginia and Eric never lose that connection of being the only people that know about Netflix and chill, but they do struggle to overcome feelings of doubt about this connection. In other words, they mirrored my early concerns that they only liked each other because of their common history (uh, or common future). Honestly, there are worse foundations to build a relationship on. 

My main problem with the book is that characters (primary and secondary) act in completely nonsensical ways – basically, to allow Frey to create D.R.A.M.A. for poor Virginia and Eric. I will give a pass to Virginia getting arrested, because it is established early on that she has been engaging in suffrage activities for a while now, even if the whole false (eyewitness!) testimony of the evil sister at a rally Virginia finds herself at by chance really strained my credulity. The most egregious case of nonsensical actions is Eric asking Lady Lara to arrange passage for a group of people out of England, using his money. I don’t understand why a) he can’t be arsed to do it himself and b) he thinks an Earl’s daughter would be able to do a better job than, say, his extremely competent manservant. Whatever, obviously Eric couldn’t do it because we need to get these people on the Titanic. Like I said: D.R.A.M.A. 

There’s also the subplot of the Time Traveler’s Network, which is a shady organization which keeps tabs on time travelers. Eric doesn’t like them because he has problems with authority and they make rules (honestly, the fact that they make rules seems reasonable), but they are maybe evil? Unclear. Presumably, Frey will address some of the ongoing mystery of time travel in the sequel. Mostly, this subplot was a distraction from the romance, though, like the nonsensical actions of characters, it helped to heighten the drama. 

A quick comment about the writing. Virginia’s chapters are narrated in first person POV; Eric’s chapters are narrated in third person limited. The transitions between the two styles was somewhat jarring for me.

One final note: sadly, an analogue to Lady Grantham does not make an appearance, but honestly, I don’t think even the most skilled writer in the world could capture the acerbic wit inherent in Dame Maggie Smith’s delivery, so this is probably for the best.

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.


Buy Now: Amazon


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