Overseas, by Beatriz Williams

>> Tuesday, July 03, 2012

TITLE: Overseas
AUTHOR: Beatriz Williams

PAGES: 464

SETTING: Present-day New York and WWI on the Western Front
TYPE: Romance

A passionate, sweeping novel of a love that transcends time.

When twenty-something Wall Street analyst Kate Wilson attracts the notice of the legendary Julian Laurence at a business meeting, no one’s more surprised than she is. Julian’s relentless energy and his extraordinary intellect electrify her, but she’s baffled by his sudden interest. Why would this handsome British billionaire—Manhattan’s most eligible bachelor—pursue a pretty but bookish young banker who hasn’t had a boyfriend since college?

The answer is beyond imagining . . . at least at first. Kate and Julian’s story may have begun not in the moneyed world of twenty-first-century Manhattan but in France during World War I, when a mysterious American woman emerged from the shadows of the Western Front to save the life of Captain Julian Laurence Ashford, a celebrated war poet and infantry officer.

Now, in modern-day New York, Kate and Julian must protect themselves from the secrets of the past, and trust in a true love that transcends time and space.
Kate Wilson is a young young financial analyst, just starting out her career in Wall Street. Julian Laurence is the golden boy of the financial world, the billionaire owner of one of the world's most successful hedge funds. They meet when Julian barely catches a glimpse of Kate at a meeting (from which her evil boss bans her at the last minute), but that is enough for him to start pursuing her. Since in addition to stinking rich he also happens to be young, drop-dead gorgeous, incredibly charming, and treats Kate like a goddess, she soon returns his interest, even when his behaviour is a bit weird and he starts sending mixed signals.

As Kate is puzzled by some of Julian's behaviour, we readers know there's a lot more going on than meets the eye. Every few chapters, you see, there's one set during WWI, starring a young American woman called Kate who mysteriously shows up at the Front in France, desperate to warn Captain Julian Ashford of upcoming danger and to save his life.

I don't tend to like time travel, but I do make exceptions every now and then, either for particular authors (well, one author so far: Susanna Kearsley) or for highly recommended books. This falls into the second category. Unfortunately, it didn't work for me. I read about a third of it, and it took me weeks to get even that far.

The main problem wasn't the time travel, it was that I found the romance soppy and mushy, instead of Romantic, which is what I assume Williams was going for. There was a very off-putting Twilight-esque vibe to it that didn't appeal to me at all, and didn't make me want to keep reading. No, no vampires, it was Julian's old-fashioned courtliness, juxtaposed with Kate's slightly snarky "I'm just a regular American girl" character. It was also the way Julian kept hiding things from Kate, treating her like she couldn't handle things and he needed to protect her from knowledge and make her decisions for her. Which, even more annoying, she kind of just accepted, in a way that never made sense to me.

There were some things I liked because they rang true and felt original, like the texture of Kate's working life as a relatively new recruit in a job like hers (I've been there, and it is like that. Things like the camaraderie with people who started at the same time as you, the grunt work, etc.), but there was plenty of other stuff that annoyed me. Julian's language, say. I know the "jolly good" type of language was supposed to be because he was from about 100 years ago, but it sounded very, well, like the American idea of what an Englishman would sound like. It just felt wrong, even faintly embarrassing. Oh, or the texts! They've only just met, he's a Very Important Client, and they're exchanging "Thinking of you" texts? Really?

Ultimately, although I was interested in finding out how things would turn out, I wasn't interested enough to keep forcing myself to pick it up every single time, and progress 10 pages at a time.



Darlynne,  4 July 2012 at 01:25  

Amen, dude. Such high hopes, so quickly dashed. I'm sorry you couldn't finish, but then I did and can't remember much of it except for more than a little annoyance. It just didn't work on any level, which was a real shame.

Rosario 4 July 2012 at 06:21  

I know, it sounded like it could have been a really interesting one, but no, just couldn't make myself keep reading. A shame, but I'm glad I've got better at stopping reading when things are not working for me...

Barb in Maryland 4 July 2012 at 16:49  

I thought it was just me! I don't think I made it more than 50 pages before I said, 'Nope, not for me--I just don't get what people were raving about.'

Rosario 5 July 2012 at 06:51  

Barb: I think I can see why it would appeal to people. It's a very "wish fulfilment" type of read. The thing is, this is a fantasy that doesn't do it for me!

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