Elias Caldwell needs more than his life in nineteenth-century England has to offer. He’d rather go on an adventure than spend one more minute at some stuffy party. When his grandfather gives him a pocket watch he claims can transport him to any place and time, Elias doesn’t believe it…until he’s whisked away to twenty-first-century America.
Tyler Forrester just wants to fall hopelessly in love. But making that kind of connection with someone has been more of a dream than reality. Then a boy appears out of thin air, a boy from the past. As he helps Elias navigate a strange new world for him, introducing him to the wonders of espresso, binge-watching, and rock and roll, Tyler discovers Elias is exactly who he was missing.
But their love has time limit. Elias’s disappearance from the past has had devastating side effects, and now he must choose where he truly belongs—in the Victorian era, or with the boy who took him on an adventure he never dreamed possible?
Thank you to Entangled Teen and Netgalley for providing me with a digital Arc in exchange for an honest Review! All quotes featured are from the Arc and therefore subject to changes.
“That’s one of the things I really like about you. Everything through your eyes is magical.”
When it comes to my enjoyment The Time Traveler’s Guide definitely delivered! ⌛ I had a lot of fun reading about Elias’ adventures in the modern time with Tyler and felt like this was such a fluffy, romantic book that really lifted my spirits! This book is perfect for when you need a quick, nice comfort read to wind down and just smile to yourself for a little while. The book certainly delivered when it came to emotions and its two main characters. I immediately felt for both Elias and Tyler, but especially the former. The time travel element was also really great, I love this theme in general!
Elias grew up in London in the 1860s as an unloved son who felt like he was never good enough and didn’t have any special talent. Him feeling like he was unwanted and expendable really tugged at my heart-strings and the wonder he reserves for the new modern world he encountered was amazing. I loved watching him explore our timeline and see how he reacted to all the new technology and rules that he had no clue about. It certainly made for a great comedic value, as we saw Elias not always conform to the social rules of society as he needed time to adjust to the completely new world he was thrown in. I often found myself smiling the most at the scenes in which Elias was so amazed by the modern time! I also liked that he went on a lot of ‘adventures’ with Tyler, who is a young filmmaker. I really understood his wish to stand out and break into the tough industry, especially when he was practically send away bis his step-mom and oftentimes isolates himself because of that. I liked seeing their connection and understanding that developed and how Tyler took in this strange boy, until it also blossomed into love. I really liked that we saw a m/m couple and also got to hear about Tyler’s experience of being out as bisexual and Elias’ figuring out he was gay, but only now being able to act on it.
However, the book also had a lot of weak points that made me unable to give it a higher rating. Mainly this is due to the deficits in writing style, plot and development of the secondary characters plus a few other points ⌛
- As much as I liked Tyler and Elias, I felt like their relationship was way too rushed and reminded me a lot of insta-love. This is sad as I liked seeing them interact, but felt like we needed more time for them to develop a stronger bond. Their connection rang a bit hollow at times, because they had just gotten to know each other.
- The writing style sadly felt a bit clunky and didn’t flow as well at times. Especially the beginning made it hard to get into. My main problem here was that a lot of overused phrases were employed in the writing style, which made it read a bit awkward and strange at times. I also felt like a few actions in scenes and a bit of the dialogue suffered from these cliché phrases, so it sometimes felt unnatural how the characters were speaking and acting.
- Sadly, the plot itself was lacking for stakes and suspense. There was always a bit of a risk with Elias having to return to his time to face the consequences for what he did, but that was about it. The plot was mainly about the romance, but didn’t really have more than that, which is something that I found lacking. The plot felt a bit weak without that certain spark to pick up the pacing and introduce some higher stakes.
- The world building in general was not very well fleshed out! I don’t know everything about Victorian era Britain, but I feel like Elias adapted way too quickly to the modern times, considering that his mindset seemed a bit too modern at times. I find it a bit unrealistic that he had no problem encountering such a different world and often I found that he didn’t seem that much different from Tyler. Also: no one ever explains why the watch can time travel. I always have an issue when the explanation is “no one knows why this thing works, but it somehow does” like Elias’ grandfather said. Furthermore, later in the plot a thing happens and we still have no idea who did it or why a random person would do that. This felt a bit like a pothole.
- As much as I liked Zoe and Oscar, they weren’t well-developed just like the other secondary characters! I feel like they disappeared at times when it was all about Elias and Tyler, so we didn’t see as much of them as I wanted. I also felt like they didn’t have as much depth as they could have had. Oscar is also one of the only black people on campus, yet his experience with that and racism he might encounter were skipped over. The other characters like Vanessa and Charlie or the f/f couple were nothing more than tropes that served to show Tyler’s daily life but didn’t have much agency of their own.
IN CONCLUSION: I would recommend The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance to everyone who is in the mood for a cute, fluffy m/m romance and likes a dash of time travel and historical fiction. The book was a great comfort read and really entertained me, but it also could have been stronger in writing style, plot and secondary characters.
Are you going to read The Time Traveler’s Guide? What is your favorite book featuring time travel? ⌛