4 STARS "What I particularly enjoyed about Time on her Hands was the time travel agency, The Lineage, and how it’s involved with everything. Derek Massey is the head of The Lineage, but having to make the tough choices has isolated him from everyone. Sarah James is an experienced Lineage agent, but quite secretive. When the timeline is betrayed, Sarah and Derek have to solve an anomaly that threatens to destroy the world. As they fight to save the world, Sarah and Derek grow closer together, but when they’re forced to make a terrible decision, they’ll have to decide between love and duty. I really liked Sarah. Although she hid a lot of secrets from Derek, especially at first, I felt like it was easier to connect with her than Derek. She was capable, intelligent, independent and knew how to handle tough situations. Derek did too, so they were actually quite similar. After a while, when you got to know their vulnerabilities, they become more and more interesting, kind of like friends you’re just getting to know. The writing was good, and I really loved the plot. It was fast-paced, and once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down." -- Majanka, I Heart Reading
Sarah woke to angels dancing over her head. Actually, they were cherubs. Chubby, smiling, pink-faced, blowing kisses, red-tipped. Wait. Sarah blinked her eyes and squinted. In the fine tradition of Michelangelo, these little angels were well endowed and oh so anatomically correct. Suddenly, those grins didn’t seem quite so innocent. And there were too damn many of them.
Now fully awake, Sarah took note of her surroundings. The bed she lay in was carved mahogany, with velvet panels in rich, deep ocean-blues hanging from the crowned canopy overhead. The coverlet was made of the same material and whisper-soft under her roughened fingertips. Gold leaf covered every piece of furniture in the room, with more cherubs smiling beatifically from chairs, tables, mirrors, even the red marble-veined fireplace.
Slowly, she sat up, muscles sore but able to do duty in a fight or run-for-your-life scenario. Which she was tempted to do just to escape the inquisitive gazes of those little winged monsters. She slid a foot out onto the floor. It was never-seen-the-sun pale and bare. With a start, she realized she was no longer covered in mud, or ash, or grime from the Arno River. In fact, she was barely covered at all. Perhaps it was meant to be a robe, or a nightgown, or undergarment of some sort, but it failed miserably in that it barely covered her bust, stopped at midthigh, and was see-through. Those cherubs did have something to smile about.
The wooden floor creaked as she stood up. One of the painted wall panels swung open, revealing a stern-looking man with familiar gray-black hair and storm-raged eyes.
Derek was dressed in a long, forest-green brocade robe trimmed with fur that flared out behind him when he started walking toward her. It added grace to his movements, a physical representation of the air of authority he always carried with him.
Her mind sifted through emotions, one thought clearer than the rest. Do I remember the kiss? If she feigned ignorance, as her friend Alex had once done with her later husband, it would give him an out, a return to the easy alliance they’d formed in Pompeii. If not…did she want his regrets? Did she want to be kept at arm’s length, recipient of cold stares and uncomfortable silences? No. She needed something solid, something to hang on to.
“I thought I’d lost you.” The words came unbidden, as did the emotion behind them. Derek closed his eyes, ever so briefly, before he was across the room, his arms around her in a violent squeeze, pent-up terror and frustration behind it.
“I thought the same. Sarah—I.” He broke off, unable to say the words, though she could see them in his face. Despair. Fear. Longing.
“I searched the Ponte Vecchio for days, mad, tried every Transport out of this city. But they were all blocked,” Derek grated. “I even attempted Victoria’s trick of using the Transport to move across distances rather than time.”
He had not let go of her, she noticed, as her arms went numb. She didn’t care. His heat chased away the last of the river’s icy embrace. “It’s been days?” She paused. Even minutes without him had sent her into a panic. “It was only a moment. Just…I turned around, and you were gone. I remember a body, hell, not even that anymore. Some poor soul who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” She winced. Derek must have felt it, for he immediately dropped his arms. A flush crept up his cheeks, but he didn’t move away from her.
“And you still made the leap. Unbelievable.” Derek shook his head.
“You taught me well.” She wanted to say more, needed his arms around her again.
“You should be in bed.”
At first her befuddled mind took it as an invitation then she saw him pull back, gathering his robe and dignity around him like armor. He still couldn’t let himself go, be vulnerable. She understood, even though she wanted him naked beside her, both figuratively and literally.
“Did you stay in bed? Where are we anyway?” The questions put her back in familiar territory as she pushed away the clingy Sarah, the one she’d banished long ago. Not far enough apparently.
“Leonardo tried, but I didn’t listen.” He smiled ruefully.
“Leonardo?” Surely he didn’t mean that Leonardo. The great artist and inventor was one of the people the Lineage cautioned against interacting with, given his influence on history. One wrong word, one chance encounter, and they would be dealing with at least a Level Four anomaly. During her assignment with Alex during the French Revolution, they had narrowly missed a meeting with Napoleon. In a brothel.
Derek seemed to sense her confusion. “Yes, that Leonardo. Leonardo da Vinci. There is a lot I can’t talk about, but I tutored here under him and Niccolo Machiavelli when I was younger.”
Was this Derek’s original timeline? He possessed all the trappings of a Renaissance man, although the term was often applied to those with only a fraction of his knowledge and accomplishments. She reached behind her, feeling her knees wobble, and abruptly sat down on what proved to be a chair designed to hold the weight of a mouse. This was the most information Derek had ever revealed about himself.
“How young? If I meet a young man with black hair and a cocky attitude, do I send him to his room after a good spanking to learn his lesson, or do I send him to his room and teach him how to be a man?” She smiled suggestively and watched Derek redden.