The Surviving Trace
by Calia Read
Book 1 in the Surviving Time Trilogy
Our love is timeless.
Will is my fiancé. The shy man I met years ago in college. The person I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with.
This is the life I’ve always wanted until finding a picture of four men changes everything…
Etienne says he’s my husband and the year is 1912. He can’t stand the sight of me, but I don’t know why.
Oh, and he’s one of the men from the picture.
I’ve done the impossible and have become trapped in time and I know Etienne is my key to going home.
The more time I spend with Etienne, the further I fall for him, until I’m questioning which time I belong in and if the life I left behind is the one I truly desire.
All I know for certain is I need to survive time.
I need to survive love.
And I need to make it out on the other side alive.
The Surviving Trace by Calia Read is the first book in her Surviving Time trilogy, and follows 29 year old Serene, co-owner of an antique shop. Life is good. She is busy with running her successful shop along with her best friend, and is engaged to Will, whom she met in college. She is close with her family, despite living in a different state. When her best friend picks up a box of antiques that need to be gone through, Serene had no idea that a picture of four unknown men would change her life. Serene cannot stop thinking about the picture. After Will and her get into a fight over her new obsession, and he throws the picture in the fire, she is devastated. And not long after, her head is in agony, and she feels as if she is falling - and she wakes up in a whole new era. It is now 1912. She seems to have taken the place of another Serene that looks just like her. And even more surprising, she is married to Etienne - one of the men in the mysterious picture - but he can't stand the sight of her. Serene knows that Etienne is the key to finding her way back to her time, and convincing him of her plight isn't the hardest in this journey. Her feelings are. As the months go by in 1912, and she gets to know Etienne, the more she wonders if she is meant to stay in that era with him. Is time the enemy here, or is there another reason Serene is sent back in time?
Oh my god. Why are people not talking about this series? Seriously. Oh. My. God. Okay. Deep breaths. Here we go ... I know I am being dramatic, but seriously! THIS BOOK IS SOOOOO GOOD! The characters a great, loveable, and unique. Serena is fierce and funny, and Etienne is ... well, if you love a good grump/sunshine romance, Etienne and Serena is it. I am a huge sucker for that trope, and I fell in love with these two together. The banter is amazing, the slow buildup of them being out right enemies, to reluctant allies, to friends and lovers was chefs fucking kiss. The side characters were equally enthralling. I fell in love with Livingston and Nathalie just as Serena does. And the story? Time travelling stories don't always work for me. They can come off as cheesy. The only other one I enjoy is the Outlander series, but this one SURPASSES that for me. It's faster paced, its fun, and its sexy. It centers more on the characters and what is going on with them, instead of the history. It's been a while since a book has left me emotionally wrung out, and I felt compelled to say fuck it to sleep, and start the next book, but I had to with this one.
So far, this book ... hell, this series, is a top read of the year so far. I wouldn't be surprised to see it on one of my "top 10" lists at the end of the year. I PROMISE if you pick up this book, or load it onto your kindle (and its on kindle unlimited guys!), you will not be disappointed. You are in for one hell of a story here.
Serene demanding to talk to Étienne, and calling him a douchebag
Serene kicking Johnathan in the balls
The swimming hole, and Serene carving her name in the tree, to prove she was there.
Étienne telling her he doesn't want her to go
Their first time
Livingston teasing Étienne and Serene about the loud noises coming from Étienne's room the night before
Étienne telling Serene he is falling for her, and her telling him she wants to stay
Livingston: “Does either of you care to explain what you are arguin’ about?”
Étienne says at the same time I say,
Livingston grins wickedly. I point at Étienne.
Serene: “I need to talk to this douchebag, but he won’t listen.”
Livingston’s brows raise.
Livingston: “I’m not familiar with the term douchebag, but it doesn’t sound nice.”
He turns to Étienne.
Livingston: “Does it, brother?” Nathalie: “This is what women wear.”
Serene: “No, this is going to be what kills me!” Serene: “I can promise you that the last thing I want to do is create a scene. But if that’s what I have to do to get your damn attention, then so be it.”
He narrows his eyes.
Étienne: “Is that why you were late? I told you to be ready at twelve sharp.”
The damn hat is in my way. I take it off and bat my eyelashes at him.
Serene: “I was gettin’ ready,”
I say in my best Southern accent.
Serene: “Wanted to look presentable.”
Serene: “I would never lie to you, husband.”
Bleh. That word tastes like bile. Étienne’s eyes flare.
Étienne: “Do not test me, Serene.”
I step forward until my breasts brush against his chest. He tenses up.
Serene: “Likewise, Étienne.” Étienne: “I was gonna see if you needed help, but it’s clear you don’t.”
My head snaps up, and I see Étienne leaning against the open doorway. His hands are tucked into his pockets. He looks like a man of leisure, but his eyes are narrowed on Johnathan and his body is rigid. He looks seconds away from pouncing on Johnathan and beating the shit out of him.
Serene: “How long have you been there?”
Étienne: “Long enough to watch you deliver a blow that, as a man, made me cringe.” Étienne: “Do you have an occupation in your time?”
Serene: “Yes, I do.”
His brows rise in surprise.
Étienne: “And it would be?”
Serene: “I’m a porn star by day and moonlight as a stripper on the weekends,”
I say without missing a beat. While Étienne struggles to form a coherent sentence, I pretend to inspect my cuticles. After a few seconds, I gaze at him innocently.
Serene: “You do know what a stripper is, right?”
He closes his mouth and sits up straight. A red flush starting from his neck spreads up to his jawline.
Étienne: “Of course I do.”
Serene: “I’m sure you’re wondering about the whole porn star job title. That’s where you have sex on camera. It’s a very lucrative business,”
Étienne says nothing, and it takes everything in my power not to break my stoic façade.
Étienne: “Do you…”
Étienne: “Is that truly your occupation?”
I throw my hands up and laugh.
Serene: “Of course not. But I have to say, it was amazing seeing the look on your face.” Asa: “Did your gut instinct also tell you to spend Étienne’s money on parties you have no business hostin’?”
Serene: “No. But my gut instinct is telling me that I should knee you in the balls.”
Étienne: “I’m afraid she’s tellin’ the truth. I’ve seen firsthand that she’ll make good on her word.” Serene: “You can’t control me and tell me what to do.”
Étienne: “I can try.”
Serene: “And you’ll fail. If I needed controlling, I would’ve come with a remote and an instruction manual.”
Closing his eyes, Étienne pinched the bridge of his nose.
Étienne: “My God. You are insufferable.” Serene: “What happens if I leave and the Old Serene doesn’t come back?”
Étienne: “I don’t know.”
Étienne’s gaze never leaves my face.
Étienne: “If it was up to me, I’d never find out.” Serene: “Why are you looking at me like that?”
I whisper. He swallows, and I watch his Adam’s apple bob.
Étienne: “Because suddenly I’m not so sure I want you to leave my world.” Serene: “Étienne, tell me what you want.”
Étienne: “I don’t want you to leave.” He lifts his head, eyes blazing.
Étienne: “You belong to me.”
His words ignite a small sense of fury in me. He thinks I belong to him, but can the same be said for him? Without a second thought, I switch our positions until I’m straddling him. Étienne blinks rapidly and stares at me with shock. My knees are tightly pressed against his chest as I stare down at him. His dick lays hard and wet against my leg. Étienne’s hands latch onto my hips as if he’s getting ready to lift me back onto his dick, but I grab his hands and press them back against the bed. He could push me off him with a simple flick of his wrist, but he doesn’t. I think he’s waiting to see how far this goes. If I’m perfectly honest with myself, so am I. Never have I been driven by need and blinded by lust like this. It’s making me do things I’ve never done before. Slowly, my fingers make an unhurried walk down his chest.
Serene: “Will you ever be mine?”
I ask, watching as his rigid abs become taut beneath his skin. When he doesn’t reply, I wrap my hand around his dick. I watch him as I rise to my knees and ever so slowly rub him against my slit. I’m trying to tempt him, but I can’t stop the moan that escapes my lips.
Serene: “Will I ever have the chance to own your heart and body?”
Étienne bites back a curse.
Étienne: “You are gonna kill me, Serene.”
His chest heaves as he pants. When the wait becomes too much for him, he makes a grab for my hips. Holding his hands close to my breasts, I look down at him.
Serene: “Answer me.”
His eyes open into thin slits. If I were anyone else and we were anywhere else, I know I’d pay dearly for teasing him this way, but all is fair in love and fucking.
Étienne: “God yes,”
Livingston: “I’m simply curious. When I arrived this mornin’, I heard two of the maids talkin’ about how they overheard loud noises coming from your room, Étienne.”
Étienne, who’s in the middle of taking a sip of his coffee, coughs loudly while I fight the urge to slide under the table where I can privately die of mortification. Love is hoarse cries. It’s anger. It’s sadness. It’s happiness and laughter. It’s everything wrapped into one. Love is one of the heaviest of words to exist. It’s a miracle anyone survives it. It’ll be a wonder if I survive it. Étienne: “If you were given the choice to stay here or go back, what would you choose?”
Serene: “Don’t make me choose,”
Étienne: “I need to know.”
I turn in his embrace and face him.
His hands curl tightly around my shoulders.
Étienne: “Because every day you stay here, the further I fall for you.”
With my eyes on his and my heart pounding, I say,
Serene: “I’d stay here.” Serene: “Right now you don’t have to share me. Right now, I’m yours.”
Étienne doesn’t smile back. He cradles my face.
Étienne: “It’s not enough for me, Serene. I want you to stay. Forever.” “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.” ―Søren Kierkegaard My mom once told me to find a man who gazes at me as though I’m the sun, moon, and stars. But what she failed to tell me was how to move on from a love that spans decades. I BELIEVE THERE are many ways to lose your mind. But nothing consistently drives people to the brink of madness like love. That’s the things about words. Once they slip from your lips, you can never get them back. I more than loved her. She’s a religion, and I’m a believer. For the rest of my life, I’ll worship every single part of her. Serene: “No matter what happens, I am yours. And you are always mine. Nothing can change that.” Serene: “No matter what happens tomorrow, I love you forever,”
Étienne squeezes my hand and kisses the crown of my head.
Étienne: “I know. Nothin’ changes between us. You’re my surviving trace.”
And it's spin-off The Belgrave Dynasty