The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

The River of No Return If you met Nick Davenant you would probably think he was a normal, unremarkable young man, enjoying life in 2013 as the owner of a dairy farm in Vermont, whose biggest worry is a visit from the cheese inspector. But once, Nick Davenant was Lord Nicholas Falcott, Marquess of Blackdown, an English aristocrat who fought in the Napoleonic Wars.

With an enemy soldier about to kill him on a Spanish battlefield one fateful day in 1812, Nick jumps forward almost two hundred years into the future and finds himself waking up in the twenty-first century. Here he learns that he is now a member of ‘the Guild’, a secret society of time travellers like himself. With the help of the Guild, Nick is able to adapt to modern life and accepts that there can be “no return”. Then one day Nick receives a letter from the Guild summoning him to London, where he is informed that they are going to break their own rules and send him back to his own time on a very special mission…

Back in the nineteenth century again, Nick meets his old friend, Julia Percy, who lives at nearby Dar Castle. In Nick’s absence Julia’s grandfather, the fifth Earl of Darchester, has died and her greedy, brutal cousin Eamon has become the new Earl. Grandfather had a very unusual ability: he could manipulate time, and Julia appears to have inherited this special gift. And when she discovers that Eamon is searching for the Talisman, an object he believes will give him the power to control time, Julia decides not to tell anybody about her secret talent.

I’ve always enjoyed books with a time travel element and The River of No Return is one of the most original and imaginative I’ve read for a long time. This is a time travel novel where the manipulation of time forms a big part of the plot – jumping forwards in time, jumping backwards in time, freezing time, speeding time up and slowing time down. However, after Nick’s initial jump into the future and then back again, which all takes place during the first third of the novel, we don’t actually see much movement between the centuries. The majority of the story is set in Regency England, a world where people travel by horse and carriage, where girls look forward to going to London for the Season, and where the Corn Bill is being debated in Parliament. As a fan of historical fiction who enjoys reading about the Regency period, I was very happy about this and in fact, it wasn’t until Nick left the modern day behind and returned to the past that I really found myself being pulled into the story.

The book did feel a bit too long and I thought there were too many lengthy conversations about the mechanisms of time travel, but overall, after a slow start, I thought this was a great debut novel – not purely science fiction, fantasy, romance or historical fiction, but a mixture of all four. The ending felt very abrupt and left me wanting to know more, so I hope Bee Ridgway is planning a sequel. I would happily read more of Nick and Julia’s adventures.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for review.

16 thoughts on “The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

  1. Lisa says:

    I am a fan of time travel stories, and of the Regency – the combination of the two pretty much ensures I’ll be looking for this one (I also have a soft spot for dairy farms for some reason).

    • Helen says:

      Time travel and the Regency is a great combination. The dairy farm doesn’t feature very strongly, but is still an important part of Nick’s life!

  2. Lark says:

    Time travel and Regency England? I’m hooked. Thanks for the warning about the abrupt ending…and for another great review. Can’t wait to read this one.

    • Helen says:

      I’m hoping the abrupt ending is because there’s going to be a sequel – I would like to know what happened to the characters after the end of the book!

  3. Caz says:

    This sounds fascinating. I’ve often eyed time-travel romances and thought about giving one a spin, but haven’t really found anything that’s caught my fancy until now. I’m a long-time Doctor Who fan, so I reckon I’ll be able to cope 🙂

    • Helen says:

      I thought there was a good balance between the time travel/historical side of the plot and the romantic side. And yes, if you like Doctor Who, I’m sure you’ll be able to cope with this book!

  4. Charlie says:

    I’m interested in reading this anyway, but I didn’t know about all the time manipulations, thought it was simply travelling. Love the sound of the rest!

  5. Jemma says:

    I wish I had enjoyed The River of No Return as much as you did! I found the ending completely idiotic. I know she’s planning on doing a sequel, but books should be able to stand alone as well, right? There were so many questions unanswered and actions unsolved. I also found that the characters of Nick and Julia’s relationship was far too modern for the time period they inhabited…

    • Helen says:

      Sorry to hear you didn’t like this book as much as I did, Jemma! I do agree with the points you’ve made, especially the fact that so many things were left unresolved at the end – it didn’t really spoil the book for me but it was still frustrating.

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