Etta Spencer is a young violin virtuoso about to have her debut performance at the Met, but before she can go onstage she hears her cold and distant mother, Rose, arguing with her family friend and violin tutor, Alice. She’s shocked to hear Alice say Etta isn’t ready yet, while her mother seems to be supporting Etta for once. Etta can’t believe Alice is doubting her and feels betrayed by her closest confidante. Her situation quickly takes a turn for the worse when she finds Alice lying in a pool of blood. Suddenly, fellow performer Sophia shoves Etta, and the girls fall back in time onto a ship in 1775. Sophia isn’t a competitive violin player, she’s part of the last time-traveling family, the Ironwoods. Rose passed the time-traveling gene on to Etta, who is shocked her mother hid this information for so many years. Sophia’s brought Etta back in time to find the magical astrolabe Rose hid years ago so Sophia’s grandfather, Cyrus Ironwood, can use it for his nefarious devices.
Nicholas is Cyrus’s illegitimate half-black son who still feels guilty over the death of his brother, Julian, whom Nicholas served as a valet during expeditions through time. He saves Etta after she falls overboard and they quickly form an attraction to each other. Nicholas follows Etta when she escapes the ship through a time passage, partly to keep her safe, and to ensure the delivery of the astrolabe to his father. Cyrus has promised Nicholas freedom and his own ship if he succeeds, and Nicholas is desperate to be free from his hateful father’s control. As Nicholas and Etta follow Rose’s clues through time and across continents, their feelings for each other get in the way of their missions.
Time travel. Romance. New York. The Met. Ships. Passenger had all the ingredients to make my Favorites list, so why did I hate it so much? Well I wasn’t sure why Etta and Nicholas fell in love. Like, she fell off the boat and he rescued her, so they’re in love? Is this a Disney movie? Am I supposed to be on board with this? Etta is over-the-top emotional, her throat is always thickening, and hearing that Nicholas, as a black man in the 1770s, doesn’t have many rights at all makes her feel like puking immediately…chill out, girl. There’s being upset and there’s being an annoying drama queen. The characters themselves were flat and bland; I really didn’t care if anything bad happened to anyone. I didn’t care if Etta and Nicholas were separated. Their romance was so basic it could have been any other harlequin romance. They’re both so full of self-loathing you want to slap them across the face and tell them to get over themselves. The prose was so flowery and purple it felt like I was choking on hydrangeas. I’m shocked my eyes didn’t stick in an upward position from all the times I rolled them. In addition, when you’re writing about time-traveling you have to be careful you’re not going to have the plot collapse in on itself because of plot holes. Nicholas wants to hide from his family, but if they can time travel, how can he ever be safe? If Cyrus wants the astrolabe so badly why doesn’t he go back in time to prevent Rose from ever hiding it in the first place? Sure, the author stuck in the caveat that travelers can only travel in certain physical places and will show up wherever they land on the same day they left, just a different year, but it really seems like anyone who’s determined enough could have prevented a ton of things from happening. It bothers me when time-travel novels focus on people wanting to change past events because unless the rules of your world are airtight, there’s plenty of room for readers to be like “why didn’t that person do XYZ?” I see too many problems with the rules of time travel in this novel.
I read this while on a cruise hoping to get lost in a romantic novel with time-travel and adventure and instead I was sighing heavily into my caipirinhas in disappointment and frustration, hoping the main characters would get splinched in a time travel passage and end my suffering. Not at all interested in continuing to read this series.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stupid astrolabes
2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Categories: A Book That is Published in 2016