Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Overseas, by Beatriz Williams

Until I started reading Diana Gabaldon and Susanna Kearsley, time travel, as a plot device, never really did it for me. But now that I'm open to the concept, I'm finding that there are authors who use it and use it well. After reading Overseas, I think I've found one more author to add to that list.

Kate Wilson, neophyte investment banker, meets Julian Laurence, a billionaire hedge fund owner, when he visits her bank. As Kate passes Julian on her way out of a meeting, he instantly feels the connection between them. Kate takes a little longer to come around, but once with Julian, she realizes that "something" is there, and that something grows into a love so powerful and all encompassing, neither one of them can deny that there is more to it than meets the eye. There's also something old world about Julian, besides his Britishness, that attracts Kate. Confused at first by Julian's tendency to pull back from her, Kate is determined to find out his secrets. Aided by a simple history book, Kate discovers that Julian is more than what he seems, and while completely far-fetched, his story seems to this reader,  completely logical. And this is where the novel really takes off.

When I first started to read, I had the feeling that this story actually started out as Twilight fanfic, in the Fifty Shades vein. Julian Laurence is the same alpha-male type as Christian Grey and Edward Cullen. For all I know, it may very well be true. However, once I really got into it, that comparison faded away, and as engrossed in the story and plot device as I was, unlike with Fifty Shades, I didn't give those similarities another thought. By the way, while I am on the subject, make no mistake, this is not erotica. Love scenes are hinted at but we are spared the details which only adds to the romanticism of the novel. Sometimes less is indeed more.

Ms. Williams alternates eras to tell her story. In two different time periods and locales, (France in 1916 during WW I and then Manhattan during the financial crisis of 2008) it is first Kate who leads Julian, and then it is Julian who leads Kate. As the story progresses, this circle starts to close until the reader doesn't quite know where things begin and where they end. I found myself trying to guess exactly where in that circle the lovers' story would resolve; a page turning exercise if there ever was one.

Ms. Williams literally imbues Julian with a poet's heart that is just too lovely to resist. Kate is the more cynical being, and after awhile she actually started to annoy me.  I wanted her to let Julian take care of her, to take what he was offering without the constant questioning and battling. I was in love with Julian myself early on, so I couldn't quite see her problem. The author makes us feel his magnetism and romantic nature, and in the present-day chapters in the last half of the novel,  we begin to suspect what Kate cannot yet see. I can tell you that when the pieces of the story started to fit together for me, the book was impossible to put down. 

With a dose of suspense and betrayal thrown in for good measure, Beatriz William's debut novel combines the simple moral code of a time gone by with the complexity of modern day issues, all set against a beautiful love story. I highly, highly recommend it. 


  1. This is one I am definitely looking forward to - thanks for the review!