Echoes of Time
by Calia Read
Book 3 of the Surviving Time Trilogy
For Etienne and me, our love has always left a trace.
It reigns over kingdoms, and rules over time.
With Etienne now in the present day, the echoes of time grow louder.
We must face the answers we seek to set things right.
However, we must be incredibly careful. One false move and everything we love will be destroyed.
And this time, could be the end of our surviving trace.
Time Travel Romance
Echoes of Time is the third and final book in Calia Read's Surviving Time Trilogy. It starts off almost exactly where we left off in book 2, but in Serene's POV and time. Serene is shocked when Etienne shows up in her parents driveway - in her time. And she still hasn't recovered from the shock of learning she is pregnant. The weeks that go by are a blur of Serene guiding Etienne in a confusing, fascinating, and sometimes disturbing future world - while they also look for a way back to the past, without making any big changes. Etienne and Serene's love is timeless. Separation does not change their feelings for one another. But Serene's unexpected pregnancy leaves them fearful for their family, and they will do anything to keep the three of them safe and together - no matter what time they end up in, and who they have to leave behind forever.
If you have read my reviews on the other books in this series, you know how much I love these books. These books made me laugh, and cry, and obsess. And Calia Read is definitely one of my favorite authors now. But this final book fell flat to me. For a couple reasons. I kind of had a feeling it was rushed through. There were a lot of editing mistakes, far more than in the other two books, that took me out of the story. And there were some plot holes that really bother me. For example, old Serene. We get that she is important to the story, and she realizes there is a doppelganger about. But I'm honestly confused. If you read the book, you know that she ----------spoiler---------> ultimately dies and disappears. <--------------- But was she ever real? Was she just a placeholder in time for our Serene? Is that why she disappears? Is old Serene disappearing the reason why our Serene knows she won't be time travelling again? I guess I just find the whole thing confusing ... and I'm not sure if I am missing something, or I am supposed to be confused. After all, Serene never knew why she time travelled in the first place, other than eventually deciding it was obviously meant to be. I think it would have been a cleaner plot to just continue the plot point of old Serene just ceasing to exist in the first book. Center on Etienne being in the present time, seeing and understanding what Serene will be giving up by going back in time one final time. Maybe figuring out what happened to Livingston and who attacked him in the future, and that being the catalyst for them to go back, and save the Belgrave Dynasty.
That being said, there were things I loved about this book too. Serene and Etienne are one of my favorite couples in the romance genre. Banter and romance and sex was all amazing as usual! I LOVED how Etienne was both enthralled by the technology of the present day, yet horrified at many other things (like the clothing, the manners ... the manners!). I loved the easter eggs for the future spin-off series ... even if things don't quite line up with what we fine out in those books (specifically with Nat's storyline). And while this conclusion to Étienne and Serene's story isn't my favorite of Calia Read's work, it's not terrible. I will re-read it one day. And honestly, I don't think you can go wrong with these books. Calia Read has done a great job, and I can't wait to read the spin off series.
“Time is Too Slow for those who Wait, Too Swift for those who Fear, Too Long for those who Grieve, Too Short for those who Rejoice; But for those who Love, Time is not.” ― Henry van Dyke, Music and Other Poems
Etienne: “Are you truly with child?”
Serene: “No, I thought it would be fun to watch you have a stroke,” I grab a towel and washcloth for him, and when I turn back to Étienne, I find him in front of the sink, continuously pressing the lever of the soap. A mound of white foam collects around the soap canister.
Serene: “What are you doing?”
Étienne points at the now half-empty soap bottle with his free hand.
Etienne: “This is incredibly innovative!”
Serene; “It’s soap.”
Etienne: “Soap released from this dispenser.”
Etienne: “I’ll wear my other clothes.”
Serene: “Too late. I burned them,”
He narrows his eyes.
As the minutes pass, he slings one pair of jeans after another over the door. Impatiently, I tap my foot.
Serene: “Are you going to show me?”
Etienne: “I wasn’t aware that was a requirement.”
Serene: “Show me.”
Slowly, the door opens. For all his reluctance, you’d think the jeans would be riding high à la Steve Urkel, but they fit him better than I imagined. Étienne makes a face of discomfort and spreads his legs awkwardly as though he has a wedgie.
Etienne: “I do not care for the feel of these.”
Serene: “Really? Because you look thrilled,”
Solemn-faced, he looks my way and adjusts himself. I shoo his hand away.
Serene: “Stop that.”
Etienne: “When I walk, the material rubs against my thighs.”
Serene: “You’ve walked like two steps. Give ’em a try.”
Etienne: “Can I tell you that when you’re hollerin’ about wearin’ a corset?”
Serene: “Absolutely. But before I put another one of those damn things on, I’m having one of my ribs removed.” Just then, a shopper bumps into Étienne.
Etienne: “Sir, where are your manners?”
The man turns and shoots Étienne a dirty look before he resumes walking. The woman he’s walking with grabs his arm and immediately begins speaking in his ear, shooting furtive looks over her shoulder at Étienne every few seconds. Groaning, I drop my face into my palms and drag my hands through my hair. When I raise my head, I find Étienne staring at me.
Etienne: “What’s the matter?”
Serene: “You’re going to get us killed if you shout at every person in this mall who rudely bumps into you, cuts in line, or steals the parking spot you’re waiting for.”
I place a hand on one broad shoulder.
Serene: “I’m going to let you in on a big secret about this time: most people give zero fucks. It’s survival of the fittest.”
Etienne: “From what you’re tellin’ me, I’m gatherin’ I didn’t do the right thing by voicin’ my opinion? However, that man’s behavior was highly imprudent.”
Étienne can argue circles around me. I take a deep breath and tell myself to shut up.
Serene: “You know, if you’re in the present day for a while, you might want to consider being a lawyer.”
He continues scowling as he scans the crowds. Even dressed in modern-day clothes, Étienne manages to stand out like a sore thumb. His height doesn’t help. Tall people are the lighthouses of society. It’s also in the way he holds himself. The very confidence that could get him into a fight is his number one appeal.
Serene: “If you think that dude was a dickwad, you should be here for Black Friday.”
Etienne: “What is Black Friday? My God, is that a plague?”
Slapping my palm against my forehead, I groan.
Serene: “There is so much we need to cover in such little time.”
Etienne: “There will never be enough time in the world for me to understand bad manners,” The elevator dings, but I ignore it and wrap my arms around Étienne’s waist, tilting my head back to look him in the eye.
Serene: “It’s okay, though. I like it when you get all jealous and go alpha. Makes me want to jump your fucking bones,”
I say with a smile.
Ian: “My little sister, ladies and gentlemen,” Ian begins to sift through the stack of mail in his hands when Étienne blurts,
Etienne: “What are braces?”
Slowly, Ian turns.
Ian: “Dude. You don’t know what braces are?”
The hallway becomes so quiet I swear you can hear a cricket chirp. The seconds tick by before I break out into false laughter and gently shove at Étienne’s shoulder. He gives me a blank look filled with panic. He knows he fucked up, but he doesn’t know why. And that’s why I’m so fiercely protective of this man. I continue laughing as I face Ian.
Serene: “This one. He can be a real riot.”
Wrapping my arm around Étienne’s shoulder, I lean into him.
Serene: “He was kidding. Of course, he knows what braces are. He just has deadpan humor. Gotta love it.”
Étienne slowly nods and says in the most monotone voice possible,
Etienne: “I love jokin’.” Nathalie: “What makes him reach for the metal bar?”
Rainey: “Sheer stubbornness. Livingston yields to no one. He fought with everything inside him.” Etienne: “Your tone is derisive. Are you not convinced?”
Serene: “Of course, I’m not convinced. You talk as if you’re a walking dictionary.”
Etienne: “Do I, or does the rest of the world not properly articulate?” Serene: “We can’t have a repeat of the mall.”
Etienne: “The mall is where I encountered that callous boob of a man?”
She wants to be upset, but Serene’s lips curve upward in a small grin.
Serene: “See, this is exactly what I’m talking about. You can’t call people boobs. And Mom is already onto you.”
Etienne: “How so?”
Serene: “Well, you nearly spent an hour toying with the coffeemaker at their house before we moved into the condo.”
Etienne: “Simple explanation. I’ve never seen her coffeemaker before.”
Which wasn’t far from the truth. That machine made the trusty percolator at Belgrave seem inadequate.
Serene: “And when you almost chucked my iPad across the room?”
Etienne: “I don’t care to have my privacy invaded by a robotic woman.”
Serene: “Siri, Étienne. Her name is Siri.” Etienne: “What if I hurt you?”
He reaches over, his massive hand settling on my lower stomach. Above my underwear, a small belly is beginning to protrude. It’s nothing noticeable. Hell, even Étienne doesn’t notice. Only I can see and feel the subtle changes in my body. I arch a brow.
Serene: “The baby’s itty bitty. It’s not going to reach out of my uterus and grab your dick.”
Etienne: “Sometimes I wonder how I fell in love with a woman like you, and then you speak,”
Etienne: “Do you have a brake on your side?”
I peer at the passenger side.
Etienne: “I didn’t see any when I was sittin’ there.”
Serene: “No, but God, I wish there was. Etienne: “Did you see that?”
Serene: “You and my brother forming a bromance? Yeah, I saw sparks fly.”
Étienne’s brows become knitted.
Etienne: “What’s a bromance?”
Serene: “Long story. Let’s focus on you and my brother.”
Etienne: “Yes, let’s. He said I was a cool dude.”
I laugh and shake my head.
I draw out slowly.
Serene: “He said, ‘You’re cool … dude.’”
Etienne: “Serene, the intention behind his words is still the same.” Serene: “Are you drunk?”
Repeatedly, I point my finger at her as I attempt to formulate the correct words.
Etienne: “I am absolutely certain that I am.” Etienne: “It’s dangerous how much I love you.”
Serene: “You think your love is dangerous?”
Etienne: “Oui. Pendant que je respire, je ne cesserai jamais de me battre pour nous. Rien d’autre ne compte.” "Yes. While I breathe, I will never stop fighting for us. Nothing else matters." Etienne: “I’ve dreamed of this,”
I say, my eyes repeatedly opening and closing. A short burst of laughter comes from Serene.
Serene: “Um. We’ve done this before. That’s kinda how this child found its way inside me.”
I gently pinch the side of her hip.
Etienne: “I’m aware of that. Believe me. I’m speakin’ of this.”
I bring her closer to my body.
Etienne: “Bein’ with you.”
Serene becomes quiet. Her fingers trail down my left arm. Her touch never fails to cause my heart rate to quicken. When she links her fingers with mine, I squeeze gently, loving the way her small fingers feel clasped between mine.
Serene: “You never have to dream again because we’ll never be apart again.”
It’s amazing what one will claim or say simply because they want it to be true in their heart. I’m so comfortable and relaxed, I don’t think about the next words to come out of my mouth.
Etienne: “Je t’aime tellement que je passerais l’éternité à essayer de te trouver, juste pour passer un moment avec toi.”
I love you so much I would spend forever trying to find you, just to spend some time with you. The dining room is so quiet the sound of Rainey’s nails methodically tapping against the glossy surface of the table seems amplified. Livingston’s gaze volleys between the chessboard and Rainey.
Livingston: “Stop that,”
Rainey arches a brow.
Rainey: “I’m thinkin’.”
Livingston: “Thinkin’, plottin’. Same thing, right? Either way, it’s my move, and you’re interruptin’ me.”
Rainey: “It’s been your move for the past ten minutes.” Oliver: “But to answer your question, I will sell Belgrave and your family’s companies because I cannot and will not bear the weight of so much responsibility.”
Nat: “Perhaps your small shoulders cannot handle the bigger burdens my brothers carry. Perhaps that terrifies you. Perhaps bein’ responsible scares you.” “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” — C. S. Lewis Serene: “When you shot Livingston with a bow and arrow, were you really aiming for his leg?”
Nat rubs his temples.
Nat: “Oh, Serene.”
Serene: “What? I think that’s the question everyone has been dying to ask.”
Nat: “I believe it’s safe to say it honestly isn’t.”
Leaning in, I perch my chin onto my palms and smile.
Serene: “Answer the question.”
Rainey grins and sneaks a look in Livingston’s direction. He’s playing a game of chess with Miles.
Rainey: “My intention was to strike his thigh to stop him from runnin’. But hittin’ his calf did the trick too.”
Serene: “I knew it. I knew I was going to like you the minute Livingston told me about you, and your answer confirms it!” There’s no need for me to worry about never watching another soap opera or reality show again. I have all the drama in the palm of my hand at Belgrave. These people have more issues than Vogue. Etienne: “Don’t ever fuck with my family again because I will fuck with yours. Are we clear?”
Nat: “Where did he learn to speak in such a manner?”
Asa: “I have no idea. It shall remain one of life’s greatest mysteries,”
Asa replies deadpan, his eyes looking pointedly in my direction. Oliver: “I can sense your hatred for me, but I will not leave Nat. I love her.”
Etienne: “You have an awfully strange way of showin’ it. However, I’m not askin’ you to leave Nat. My sister is a grown woman. But time has an interestin’ way of workin’. She may depart with you. Go back to Brignac House. Perhaps you’ll spend a few years of happiness, but time will tick by, and the blood that courses through her will remain Lacroix, and the resentment she has for you will be Lacroix. And when she hates you enough to leave with everythin’ she came with, it will be because she is a Lacroix. Not a Claiborne.” Livingston is waiting by the pathway, dressed in a black suit.
Livingston: “You’re late. Étienne’s been pacin’ like a caged animal.”
Nat: “We’re not late!”
Livingston: “This is Étienne we’re speakin’ of. If you’re not five minutes early, you’re late. And he’s nervous. But you did not hear that from me.”
I exhale a shaky breath.
Livingston holds out his arm.
Livingston: “Can I have the honor of escortin’ you to your beastly fiancé and watchin’ him become green with envy that you’re on my arm?”
Nat rubs her temples.
Nat: “Livingston. Not today.”
Livingston: “This is their weddin’ day, and suddenly, I’m supposed to be a gentleman?”
Nat: “That’s exactly what you’re supposed to do.” Is this our happy ending? God, I hope not. Because I never want this to end with Étienne.
Etienne: “I lost my heart but found my soul in you. This was all worth it. My surviving trace.”
Serene: “Surviving trace,”