Forever Mine by Monica Burns
Overview by Amazon:
When a bomb explosion thrusts Victoria Ashton backward in time to 1897, she’s forced to impersonate the Countess of Guildford. Despite Victoria’s attempts to convince the earl she’s not his wife, her counterpart’s infidelity, lies, and ill-tempered personality makes the task almost impossible. Worse, Victoria finds herself falling in love with a man who loathes her. Only when the earl learns to trust her does she realize her future lies in the past. But love always comes at a price, and she must make a painful sacrifice in order for them to be together.
Nicholas Thornhill, Earl of Guildford has been searching for his missing wife for three weeks. Rumors of him being guilty of murder make him unwilling to believe his wife’s latest in a multitude of lies. But the changes in Victoria continuously surprise him. Despite his best intentions, he finds the contempt he once felt for his wife turning into something deeper and stronger. But when danger threatens to separate them forever, he must forge a bond with her that crosses the boundaries of time.
Wow. Just wow. This book blew me away. I was so deeply connected to this story that I read this book in lieu of doing anything for the past two days. No laundry, no evenings working, the dishes are piled up and my poor kid is wondering where Mommy went. I have had the privilege of reading some excellent books lately, but honestly this book blew me away. I have never read anything by Monica Burns before, but when this book showed up on Netgalley, I hoped it would be a fun read like the recent time travel book I read, Must Love Breeches. While both books deal with time travel, they are very different.
This book was so mesmerizing that it drew me in within moments of starting to read. The story wasn’t an examination of a modern day woman sent back in time, marvelling at the corsets, the food and the lives of the ton. It was a passionate, complicated and intriguing love story that spans decades and challenges the reader to believe in the transcendence of love and hope. There is darkness to this story that makes the light so bright and welcome.
The story opens in modern day England. We meet Nick and Nora, siblings who run an art gallery. Nick is obsessed with a painting of the Countess of Guildford that hangs in his office. His sister teasingly pressures him that his life revolves around the lady in the painting. Every woman he dates looks like her and the cast off dates names all start with V, for the Countess’ first name Victoria. It seems odd that he is so captivated by the painting. You wonder if he’s about to fall into the painting and the story will revolve around him.
But we quickly meet Victoria Ashton. She enters the store and is drawn to a landscape that was completed by the same artist as the portrait of the Countess. What draws Nick to her is that she is a doppelganger of the Countess. They could be identical twins. The two of them are caught in a spell binding moment and forces that can’t possibly exist have these two strangers reaching for each other. Just as they are about to kiss, an earth shattering explosion rocks the store. Victoria is thrown across the room and electrocuted. Nick is beside himself that he has lost her; not really understanding how the stranger he just met is tearing at his soul. He doesn’t leave her bedside as she remains in a coma. He just knows that he can’t leave her. She’s the one.
We don’t have to wait long to find out what has happened to Victoria. She awakens in a strange bed. We don’t know much about her yet, but get to know her feelings and thoughts quickly. She has travelled back in time to 1897. She has taken the form of the Countess of Guildford, known as Vickie to her friends and family. She is a dead ringer for the Countess according to her husband who comes to get her. Apparently the Countess has been missing for three week and was found unconscious on the property. She has a very nasty bump on her forehead and piercing headaches. When she tries to remember the past and how she got there, she retreats to a strange place that is shrouded in mist and she can hear the future and the present calling to her.
It turns out that the current Earl of Guildford looks exactly like the man in the art gallery, except this man has no desire to kiss her. He openly despises her. It turns out the woman who she is now was a terrible, horrid woman who was viciously mean and deceptive. I adored how immediately Victoria distances herself from the Countess. She knows she can’t explain how she got there and who she truly is, so amnesia seems like a convenient cover.
As Victoria returns to the estate of Guildford, she learns more about ‘Vickie’ and it becomes abundantly clear that something remarkable has changed the Countess. Victoria is kind to people, she says please and thank you, she doesn’t make huffy demands. Nicholas, the Earl is shocked with the change his wife is exhibiting. He thinks it is another conniving trick being played by ‘Vickie’. Victoria is so confused and overwhelmed by the need she has for Nicholas, yet resigned to the distance that Nicholas insists upon.
The time they spend hiding away in the country allows Victoria to settle into her surroundings and get her bearings. It also allows Nicholas to observe her and spend time getting to know his new wife. For the first time he feels attraction to her. They have never consummated the marriage due to ‘Vickie’s’ infidelity, but this new wife he wants desperately. The passion they share is unbelievably hot. I loved the dirty talk, the flaming need for each other and the intimacy that developed between them. If you like your historical novels with very spicy bedroom scenes than this will satisfy you immensely.
The plot is intricately developed and woven. Victoria has to be introduced to society, ‘Vickie’s past is haunting Victoria, and Nicholas and Victoria are falling in love with each other but her visions of the future are still luring her into the white mist. I can’t stress how well developed this plot was. Everything made sense and was so engaging that I just couldn’t put the book down. I HAD to know what happened next.
Since the premise of this book is time travelling and in the future Nicholas is at Victoria’s bedside in the hospital, you know that she will have to choose a time to live in. Your heart breaks for her to leave Nicholas in the past and also if she embraces him in the future. It’s an impossible choice that you want to put off forever. I was so happy for Victoria and Nicholas in the 1800s and yet I wanted the present day Victoria to wake up and not break Nicholas’ heart.
I haven’t been as descriptive with the plot as I have been in the past reviews mainly because it is so ingenious and delicious to read. I can’t emphasize enough how amazing this book is. I thought at first it was just my reaction to it, but when I went online to read other reviews, it was scoring off the charts. Right now this book is on sale on Amazon.com for a price that I would gladly pay ten times the amount to have a copy of this book. Stop reading this review and go and get this book – and then come back and tell me how much you loved it.