Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Flirting with Forever by Gwyn Cready


The clearance section at one of my favorite used bookstores always has the weirdest shit in it and the last time I went, I found this book in there for $1. Some time travel books can be so ridiculously weird that they basically can only be enjoyed as (good) bad camp, and that's what this book was. How else to explain what is basically fanfic about real life Restoration-era artist, Peter Lely? Move over, Harry Styles. I sense a new AO3 trend on the rise!

Also, you know how this goes. There are going to be SPOILERS. So if you were really, really dying to read FLIRTING WITH FOREVER and want to go in as pure as the driven snow, don't read this review.

Basically, when you die, you are born again (the Buddhists were right), but the afterlife is a big fat bureaucracy and until they can arrange for a new body for you, you have to do favors for the Timey Wimey Society (note: not their actual name, but you know). Peter Lely is heartbroken over the death of his wife and desperate to be reborn, but first he has to stop the heroine, Cam(pbell) (note: no relation) from writing a Behind the Music-esque expose on another famous artist, Van Dyck.

Cam travels back to Amazon by-- and I kid you not-- using the "Look Inside!" feature on Amazon while browsing a historical book about art, and ends up in Lely's studio while he's painting Nell Gwyn. There's like one hundred pages about Cam modelling for him and being super turned on by his hotness which eventually culminates in some sexy stuff. But then Lely sabotages Cam's book and she decides to get revenge... by writing about him and his wife, who he still hasn't gotten over.

There's so much drama in this book. Like, Cam has an ex-boyfriend named Jacket who does mixed-media painting work and who I'm pretty sure was inspired by Russell Brand. Her sister is also her coworker and competitor in all things and is cheating on her with Jacket. The Timey Wimey Society is also running around and being like, "With great time travel comes great responsibility, so don't fuck around and find out with the future!" but obviously this is a time travel romance so the odds of people fucking around and finding out with the feature are pretty much 1000%.

As a romance, this book is kind of a fail because the couple didn't really know each other for that long so it felt more like lust than love. And even if you buy the insta-love connection, Lely was SO obsessed with his wife that it kind of felt like the heroine was just a placeholder for her (especially since they looked so similar). I don't know, it gave me uncomfy vibes. I can be okay with romances where the hero or heroine is moving on from a previous spouse (in fact I encourage the rep!), but their new romance should feel authentic or it just doesn't really end up feeling fair to either character.

There is an HEA but I thought this book was ridiculous so I didn't buy it. That said, I am giving it a three because the dated aughts cultural references (remember when Netflix mailed you DVD rentals? remember AOL?) and the fact that the heroine was able to get two bars on her cell phone IN RESTORATION ENGLAND WHERE THERE ARE NO CELL PHONE TOWERS is just too good.

Look, I may seem like a picky bitch but all I demand is entertainment.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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