Beyond the Mist by Casi McLean

Traveling through time with the determination to save one, but the temptation to save thousands.

What’s it About? 


Piper Taylor concedes she’ll never fall in love, until a treacherous storm spirals her into the arms of the handsome Nick Cramer. Unrelenting remorse over a past relationship haunts Nick, but he can’t deny the mysterious connection and hot desire Piper evokes. The allure of a secret portal hidden beneath Atlanta’s Lake Lanier tempts him into seizing the opportunity to change his mistakes. But his time slip triggers consequences beyond his wildest dreams. Can Piper avoid the international espionage and terrorism of 2001 New York, find Nick, and bring him home before he alters the fabric of time, or will the lovers drift forever Beyond the Mist?

First Impressions

We all remember the date. We all remember where we were. For me, it was the end of my 9th grade English class, September 11, 2001 when our class learned that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I remember not knowing what the World Trade Center was, having never heard of it before in my small suburban Ohio town. I remember watching the news on TV during my 3rd period History class, with my classmates talking incessantly behind me as they reveled in the fact that we were skipping the day’s lesson, when the second plane hit. Everyone realized in that moment that history was happening. It’s been over 16 years, and yet this novel made me realize how raw that moment still is.


In this novel we see Nick travel through time to save his former girlfriend, Carly, who was at the Marriott Hotel at ground zero when the towers came crashing down. He feels guilty for fighting with her the day before her death, and never understood why she was there in the end. He’s determined to save her, yet also realizes he can’t save the countless others, or else risk a massive butterfly effect by changing history so dramatically. But once he goes back Nick wonders if he can simply sit by and do nothing. As I became more entrenched in this story I must admit it became increasingly difficult to want to pick up and read. It’s not that the story wasn’t interesting, far from it! It’s just that eventually you realize, whether or not Nick is successful in his quest to save Carly, whether or not he warns the government of events about to unfold, it doesn’t change anything. There’s no way for us to go back and save just one, let alone all. We root for Nick to succeed, yet also must acknowledge the sad truth that it’s something we can never hope for in real life.


Time Traveling from Book One to Two

This is the second book in the Lake Lanier series, and when push comes to shove I’d have to say I enjoyed book one a bit more. It was a less anxiety-induced read than transporting back to the days preceding 9/11, and was all about an accidental trip through time rather than one which was premeditated. I remember enjoying the first book, from the plot to the characters involved, but my goodness did I need a refresher course when it came to the start of book two. It’s been so long since I read it, and seeing as this novel picks up literally where book one finishes off, I’ll admit I was kind of lost. Eventually I could sort of put together all the pieces of the puzzle to remember exactly how book one ended, and understand the dynamics of all the characters. A brief summary of what went down, or maybe a character list at the beginning would have been much appreciated though. You know, for those of us who have an embarrassingly terrible memory!


When comparing the time travel elements of books one and two, I preferred the serendipitousness of Lacey’s fall through time to the 1950s. She not only had to find a way to quickly adapt all on her own, but also try to find a way back home. All while falling in love with a man from the past. The time travel element in this second book was much more orchestrated, and therefore dealt so much more with all the possible consequences of altering the past. Let me put it to you this way, whenever we have a time travel novel which mentions having vast repercussions to the space time continuum, my head kind of starts to hurt. We have the risk of running into a past self, the confusion of alternate realities and changed memories that bring the anxiety level through the roof. Add to the fact that we learn one of the characters introduced in book one has a plethora of powers from telekinesis to teleportation, and it was a lot to keep straight.


A Lost Love and an Uncertain Future

There were two different aspects of this novel which surprised me, dealing with not only the past, but also the future. First, Nick’s motivations for going back in time. You initially assume it must be because Carly was the love of his life, and he’s willing to go to hell and back to try and save her. Well, kind of…but not really. Whilst planning this trip back in time, he falls deeply in love with Piper, and quickly realizes he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. And yet his deep love for Piper doesn’t prevent him from going back for Carly. When he travels back and runs into Carly for the first time, he even admits to himself that being in her presence again doesn’t evoke anywhere near the same feelings he had for Piper. So why does he continue with this mission even though he knows the risks to the space time continuum could be catastrophic, and his feelings for Carly have obviously diminished with time?


Turns out, his determination to save Carly has more to do with feelings of guilt rather than love. Nick feels guilty that his last words with Carly were exchanged in anger, and is convinced their fight drove her to stay at the World Trade Center Marriott at the worst possible moment in history. So what drives Piper to get involved? She initially goes after Nick to, in a word, babysit him and ensure he doesn’t do anything stupid to possibly alter history. As 9/11 approaches though, Piper starts to wonder if maybe Nick’s drive to save Carly, and Piper’s own journey to follow Nick to the past had more to do with fate and destiny than simply wanting to save an ex-girlfriend. Phew, mental mind game right there!!


Another aspect of this novel which I wasn’t expecting was that we don’t merely encounter a trip to the past, but we get one to the future as well. This part of the story was probably the most surprising, as well as intriguing. It becomes a cautionary tale of what could be in store for our future if we don’t change the path we’re currently on. My one complaint though is that we are only given a very brief, cursory introduction to this world. This results in it feeling slightly out of place in the overall scope of the story. At the same time though, it’s practically a guarantee we’re in store for more in the next novel. It’ll be interesting to see how the series might switch gears when dealing with how to possibly change the present to impact the future rather than wondering how an alteration to the past could influence the present.


*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Lake Lanier Mysteries, book 2. All in all I’d have to say I preferred the first novel in the series, but it’ll be interesting to see where things go in book 3!

Should you read it? Not gonna lie, this was a tough book to read at times. We’re dealing with such a momentously tragic event in history, and it’s kind of depressing to see how characters re-live it knowing they can’t do anything to save everyone. Overall still an intriguing read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I may have fallen off mine a few times.

Smut Level: You had to wait awhile to get it, but eventually we’re privy to a pretty spicy sex scene between Piper and Nick in the doomed World Trade Center Marriott.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 282 Pages.



A Train Through Time by Bess McBride

One of my favorite features of time travel romances is the moment when our hero or heroine discovers they’re not in Kansas anymore. Most simply go with the flow and adapt. Others have that brief moment of denial before eventual acceptance. In this novel, Ellie has a minor freak out, and continually insists she’s dreaming rather than acknowledging the harsh truth. Probably the most realistic scenario of the three!

What’s it About? 

a train throught ime

College teacher Ellie Standish thinks she’s on a sleek modern train heading to a conference on women’s studies in Seattle, but she awakens from a night’s doze to find herself on a bizarre historical train full of late Victorian era reenactors who refuse to come out of character. When the leader of the group—handsome, green-eyed Robert Chamberlain—finally convinces her the date is indeed 1901, a skeptical Ellie rejects any eccentric theories of time travel and presumes she is smack dab in the middle of a very interesting historical dream. She turns the directorial reins of her dream over to the smitten and willing Robert, only to realize that dreams cannot last forever. Someday, she must wake up to reality, though Ellie no longer has any idea what reality is. She only knows that Robert must play an important part in her future. But how can he…if he’s only a figment of her imagination or worse yet…a man who belongs to an era long past?

First Impressions

I really loved the start of this novel. Ellie is adamant she hasn’t traveled through time, instead thinking she’s woken up surrounded by a strange troupe of Victorian era reenacters. When she eventually realizes that theory holds no weight she moves on to the idea that she must be dreaming, and sticks with it for pretty much the rest of the novel. Rather than our heroine admitting the truth that she’s traveled through time, Robert is actually the one who puts it together first, and tries to convince her of it. It felt like such a unique departure from most time travel romances, where our traveler is usually the one who must come up with the most compelling argument to convince others that they are from a different time. Normally those in the past are the skeptical ones, and I just really loved how this novel chooses to take that trope and flip it on its head.

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A Dreamy Man

Robert could have easily had this strange woman committed for acting so bizarrely, but instead he chooses to play along with Ellie’s delusion that she’s simply dreaming. It was actually a humorous way to show how smitten Robert was with her from the very beginning. He becomes convinced that Ellie was meant to travel through time to find him, and for them to be together. Now he just has to convince her that it’s true. At first Ellie is determined to “wake up” from this crazy dream. However, as she spends more time with the dashing Robert her fondness for him also grows, and she starts to hope that this wonderful dream will continue.


Shockingly, at one point in the novel when Ellie falls asleep she does actually wake up from this dream in her own time for the briefest of moments before waking up again back in the Victorian era. She then becomes determined to stay away from Robert before they fall too hard for each other, or else risk crushing his heart once she does leave this time for good. This is definitely a unique time travel twist in that although the train sort of acted as the device of her travel, it was more the act of falling asleep that was the impetus for it. This makes her presence in the past all the more suspenseful, as you never know when she might wake up again in her own time. Is she truly destined to remain with Robert forever in the past? Or is she just visiting for a brief moment in time?


The Standout

The characters in this novel are everything. From Robert’s snarky grandmother, who I couldn’t help but compare to Trix from Gilmore Girls, to his delightfully chipper sister. Even the supplemental characters who don’t have that much impact on the overall story are so much fun, and you can’t help but become enthralled in this world. The development of some characters was also fascinating. We are introduced to one woman at the beginning of the novel who is set up to be someone who will become a thorn in Ellie’s side, potentially ruining her happily ever after with Robert. Instead, we surprisingly see how this woman comes to becomes one of Ellie’s best friends, who is so unbelievably kind and sincere. So delightful, and it definitely keeps you on your toes!


Corsets and Hairdos

I can’t think of a better juxtaposition than having a Women’s Studies professor being thrust back in time to the turn of the century. The land of corsets, elaborate hairdos, and always having to lean on a man’s arm. At the start of this novel I was thoroughly entertained with how Ellie expressed her horror at having to squeeze herself into a corset, and jumped for joy at how she wasn’t afraid to talk with Robert about how different her life is in the future as a modern woman.


Some of my favorite scenes though were when Ellie would have a heart-to-heart with a woman from the past, and discover how they see such fashions of the time as freeing compared to what they were years before. We can see how one can criticize the past when compared with their current life, but at the time also see how illuminating it can be to compare those circumstance with those that came before. It really helps to put everything in perspective, and give the professor a lesson as well.

From Outspoken Woman to a Lady of the Times

My one main criticism of this novel is how Ellie’s character evolves, or devolves, throughout the book. She eventually comes to fit in almost too much with the times. What I loved so much at the outset was how Ellie stood out compared to those around her, and that she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and stand up for herself as a woman. As she spends more time in the past however, we see how she starts to internalize more of her opinions, and almost becomes complacent in her interactions with Robert. I still love Robert as a lead character, but when she avoids making eye contact with him, becomes tongue-tied in his presence, or runs away from her feelings for him she almost seems like a turn of the century woman who needs a fainting couch. Or maybe some smelling salts to help her with the vapors! I wanted her to remain a headstrong female from start to finish, but instead at one point she’s almost like a blushing wall flower.


Series: Train Through Time, book 1. I got this one for free on Bookbub, and I immediately went and bought the 2nd book in the series.

Should you read it? A fun, quick, simple read that is entertaining throughout. I will say it does drag at one minor point when Ellie tries to distance herself from Robert, but it all comes together for one exciting finish! I do wish Ellie’s character had remained outspoken and spunky throughout, but overall I really enjoyed this one. It does take some unique approaches to the traditional time travel romance genre that made it fun and interesting.

Smut Level: Ellie and Robert have one rather passionate kissing scene, and he is really quite the flirtatious debonair leading lad. Nothing scandalous takes place, even though Ellie does admit she’s no virgin.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Self-Published. 200 Pages.