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Monday, June 18, 2012

Overseas by Beatriz Williams: A 50 Shades/Time Traveler's Wife Mashup

Overseas by Beatriz Williams
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons ISBN 978-0-399-15764-6
Hardcover, $25.95
Source: review copy provided by the publisher

Take Fifty Shades of Gray (minus the whole BDSM-thing), add The Time Traveler's Wife, plus a dash of Erin Duffy's debut novel Bond Girl, and a pinch of Maisie Dobbs' WWI mysteries, shake them all up in a box, and you get Beatriz Williams' imaginative debut novel Overseas.

Young analyst Kate Wilson has a summer job at Sterling Bates bank, a Wall Street institution. When she attracts the attention of superstar hedge fund billionaire Julian Laurence, sparks fly and they begin a relationship, much to the consternation of her hated boss Alicia, who aims to do Kate in.

But what does this have to do with Captain the Honorable Julian Laurence Spencer Ashford, WWI British Army hero who wrote a famous love poem, Overseas, to his fiancee back home and died tragically on the battlefield in France? Are the two men distant relatives or something more?

Julian and Kate begin a relationship, only to have Julian dump Kate soon after, without warning or reason. When Julian reappears months later, saving Kate from an attack in Central Park, they reignite their relationship, although Julian acts very mysterious, paranoid even.

Kate is accused of violating insider trading laws and fired from Sterling Bates, and she believes that Alicia is behind it. Julian offers to help her find out what happened, and whisks her off to his country home in Connecticut where their relationship grows deeper.

Julian loves Kate, almost from the first moment he saw her, and he showers her with affection and gifts. Kate understands the affection, but the expensive gifts make her uncomfortable. There was one line I adored, something that explains the deep relationship between true soulmates. Julian says:
"There's a difference between giving and sharing, darling. I'm not giving you anything. You're a part of me. It's all just yours."

But Julian is keeping secrets from Kate, and there are men following her. What is behind all this? The mystery behind who exactly Julian is and why people seem to want to hurt Kate and him is well drawn-out and comes to a convincing conclusion.

This imaginative book defies categorization, with aspects of mystery, romance, fantasy, and a little science fiction all carefully put together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that, when finally finished, brings great satisfaction.

It's not a book that when described to me I thought I would choose to read, but I'm glad I opened my mind and heart up to it. The storytelling is very clever, and I would have loved to seen the editor's pitch for this book. My only criticism would be that it may have been a bit too long, with too many scenes between Kate and Julian establishing their relationship.

That said, I look forward to Beatriz Williams next book; she has a lot going on in that creative mind of hers.

rating 4 of 5

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