Genre: YA science fiction (time travel romance)
If you could learn the identity of your one true love—even though you will never meet— would you?
Years have passed since refugees from a ruined earth took to space, eventually settling a new system of planets. Science has not only made the leaps necessary to allow time travel, but the process engineered a strange side effect—predicting your one true love.
If you could save your one true love from an untimely death, would you be able to resist?
Sixteen-year-old Kaia Vespasian is an apprentice to the Historians—a group charged with using time travel to document the triumphs and failures of the past—and she can’t resist a peek at her long-dead soul mate in Ancient Egypt. Before she knows it, she’s broken every rule in the book, and the consequences of getting caught could destroy more than just her new romance.
Or would you have the strength to watch him die?
But when Kaia notices a fellow classmate snooping around in a time where he doesn’t belong, she suspects he has a secret of his own—and the conspiracy she uncovers could threaten the entire universe. If her experience has taught her anything, to changing history means facing the consequences. The Historians trained her to observe and record the past, but Kaia never guessed she might have to protect it— in a race across time to save her only chance at a future.
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A man stepped forward, draped in the same off-white, purple-striped toga as the rest of the room. A senator of Rome, a nobleman. My brainstem tat spit out the answer into my mind before the question fully formed—Tillius Cimber.
My heart climbed into my throat, lungs struggling with oxygen. It was happening.
“You were going to consider my petition to return my brother from exile,” he said, too loudly. The words vibrated on the taught strands of anxiety in the air, bounding off the stone walls and crashing into my ears, easily translated by my tattoo.
It was hard not to wince, but that would shake my face. I’d been distracted enough today, wandering into the portico, and my tendency to be sidetracked did not endear me to the overseers or our Elders. My family had endured enough disgrace in the past few years without my adding to it by being a space cadet. I was two Level-1 sanctions away from the Elders notifying my parents. After what happened with my brother, they might die from shame.
“I’m still considering it,” Caesar replied, his tone dismissive.
My lungs ached with unspent air. They struggled to call out, to warn him. Policy forbade any interaction, of course, and the brainstem tat did more than provide me with handy dandy information—it insisted I follow contemporary custom. It saved me a ton of studying but the downside meant occasionally losing control of my own limbs. It had forced me into an absurd curtsey on more than one occasion, once nearly toppling my giant wig right onto Marie Antoinette’s feet at a ball.
There was no way to change the scene that began to unfold in front of us, anyway. No way to nudge it a different direction without setting off unknown effects that might reach all the way to Genesis in 2560. I squeezed Analeigh’s hand tighter as Caesar shook off Cimber.
He barely took a step before another senator, Casca, stabbed him square in the neck, the blade sinking all the way to the hilt.
The almost comical surprise on his face slid quickly toward resignation as Brutus attacked him next, his blade strong and true as it sunk into his old friend’s heart. The betrayal in Caesar’s eyes sent a sizzling chill down my spine but no words passed his lips. He did not single Brutus out as more important than the others, despite the infamous line in Shakespeare’s version of these tragic events.
In fact, though he struggled and fought, Gaius Julius Caesar spoke not one more word as nearly sixty grown men surrounded him with daggers, each intent on taking their part of the blame—or the credit—by plunging their own weapon into flesh.
Sarah’s face turned pale, chalky, as the scene descended into a melee. Men stabbed each other instead of their target. Their leather shoes slipped in crimson puddles dotting the floor, more than one of them slipped, and Caesear disappeared inside a crowd of thrusting blades. The coppery, slick odor of spilled blood clogged the air, coated my tongue. I swallowed, and it stuck to my throat.
It seemed like it went on forever, but in reality, he bled out in mere minutes. Just a man, after all. Not a god.
I am a huge history fan, so this book had me from the get go: in Chapter One, a group of students travel back in time to observe the assassination of Julius Caesar. The historians-in-training take their eyewitness accounts from the “Earth Before” to their time (the New Era) and place (the planet Sanchi) for analysis.
I love everything about how the author crafted this: the students are outfitted with invisible eyeglasses that stream information, bio data ports that command cultural etiquette, and the ability to speak to each other in non-verbal ways. These technological marvels allow for teenage time travelers to drop into any time or place and complete their assignments without being noticed by the people they are observing. Who they study and why makes for an incredible, entertaining plot.
Then there are the students themselves: Kaia, Sarah and Analeigh are friends, roommates, and studying to be Historians. Return Once More centers around seventeen year old- Kaia and how she comes of age as a time traveler. There is so much to her story, and I hate to spoil any of it. The story of her world, her assignments, her discoveries and her family is an exciting adventure. All of this is anchored on the revelation that her True, the person best suited to love and compliment her, lived in Ancient Egypt. There are severe consequences for interacting with people in the past – even the smallest change in history can affect every generation that follows. With advanced technology and time travel at her disposal, Kaia wants to meet her soulmate. But should she?
There is a lot going on in this book, and all of it is great. Sci-fi time travel, historical shout-outs, star crossed love, secret assignments, rebellious outcasts – all against a backdrop of a new world trying to avoid the problems that plagued the Earth Before: overpopulation, environmental destruction, etc. The author does an incredible job of weaving all the details, action, and surprises in an entertaining way. It becomes evident in the final few chapters that the story will continue after this book ends – and I cannot wait to see what happens next. – kris
Her family is made up of farmers and/or almost rock stars from Iowa, people who are numerous, loud, full of love–the kind of people that make the world a better place. Trisha tries her best to honor them, and the lessons they’ve taught, through characters and stories–made up, of course, but true enough in their way.
Trisha is the author of THE LAST YEAR series and the WHITMAN UNIVERSITY books. She’s represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
To learn more about Trisha Leigh, please visit her at trishaleigh.com.