TimelesTimeless by Rachel Spanglers by Rachel Spangler is the second book in her Darlington series. It totally stands alone though, so if you haven’t read The Long Road Home, fear not—you can read this anyway.

Stevie Gellar likes her quiet, conflict-free life in New York City, writing successful books and hoping to get her first play produced. Despite hating anything associated with limelight (especially talking to other people), she agrees to go back to her old high school in Darlington, Illinois to accept an award, hoping to give her agent a story he can spin to get the play sold. She’s pleasantly surprised to see that the student teacher she had a crush on a decade ago not only remembers her, but is responsible for getting her out to Darlington. The only problem is that when Stevie finally has a chance to kiss Jody, her natural tendencies take over.

Counting down the hours until she can jet back to New York, everything changes for Stevie when she passes out on stage and wakes up in an impossibility. Stevie has to figure out how to get back to normal while dealing with bigoted bullies, a new friend who’s on the edge, and crushing on Jody all over again.

The Characters

Tara: Timeless is told in the first person from Stevie’s perspective. As a fellow conflict avoider, I found her easy to relate to as she negotiated her way through talking with strangers, getting up on stage and having a panic attack, and shying away from confronting homophobic and racist bullies. At an earlier time in my life, I could have easily been Stevie, minus the whole successful author thing. She grows so much in this book and I enjoyed seeing her come into her own, becoming the kind of person she (and anyone) could be proud of.

We may not ever get to see Jody’s perspective, but I appreciate that Rachel Spangler makes her vulnerable enough in her conversations with Stevie that she reveals the information we need to get to know her. She’s an excellent teacher who’s there for all of the right reasons, looking out for the queer kids in Darlington even as she stays largely closeted. Stevie shakes up her world, making Jody think about what she needs, and I was so happy with where she landed by the end of the book.

Fans of The Long Road Home will be happy to see more of Beth and Rory. We also get a glimpse of Kelly, the lead of Close to Home, in a surprisingly tender moment. The book has a lot of side characters, between the people of Darlington and its high school, as well as Stevie and Rory’s agent Edmond, and everyone adds something important to the story.

Sheena: I really enjoyed the character work in this book. Spangler managed to bring depth and growth to the main character in a way that I don’t see all that often while making her flawed and believable.

I also loved the attraction between the two women and the conflict around that. It felt fresh and real.

The Writing Style

Tara: Despite dealing with a theme as serious as bullying, Rachel Spangler’s easygoing writing style kept the pages turning. I found myself quickly engaged in the book and enjoyed it so much that I found myself thinking about it while I was at work, counting down the minutes until I could get back to reading.

Sheena: The writing style worked so well as an audiobook. It was well paced with excellent storytelling and great characters.

The Narration

Sheena: This book was narrated by Melody Muzljakovich. It was the first time I heard her work and it was a beautiful fit. She got the voices different enough that I could tell who was who, her pacing was excellent and she managed to tell the story in such a way that I didn’t drift off.

The writing and narration was a perfect pairing.

The Pros

Tara: Everything worked about this book for me. The characters, plot, style, everything. Timeless is a wonderful book.

Sheena: This works so well as an audiobook.

The Cons

Tara: None for me. Some might find the bullying upsetting, and while I expected that for myself, I actually never found it to be too much.

Sheena: The bullying didn’t actually feature much for me. I was too consumed with wondering how Spangler was going to end the story because there were some massive obstacles to overcome for the main characters in the romance department. So that wasn’t a con for me either.

I don’t like that the cover for the audiobook was basically just a squished version of the cover. I don’t understand the incination to squish a picture. It just looks odd.

taras favourite lesbian bookssheena's favouriteThe Conclusion

Tara: I can’t believe I waited so long to read Timeless, because it’s SUCH a wonderful book. Close to Home might be Rachel Spangler’s best book, but Timeless is my favourite by her and I know I’ll be coming back to this one again and again.

Sheena: If you only get one audiobook this year get this one. It was magnificent.

Excerpt from Timeless by Rachel Spangler

Back in Jody’s car, I watched the few lights left on along Main Street fade behind us. The stars were much clearer here than in the city, so I stared at them even though I really wanted to stare at Jody. “Do you ever think about leaving? I mean I know the kids need you, but there are a lot of kids in need in a lot of places.”

“I don’t rule anything out. I don’t know if I want to teach in Darlington forever, but if I decided to leave, it wouldn’t be because I got tired or gave up.” She pulled into the long gravel driveway of Beth and Rory’s farmhouse, then killed the engine. “I won’t run from anything, but some days I do wonder what it would feel like to run toward something or someone.”

The words caught in my throat, the emotion behind them so raw and achingly beautiful. I should’ve kissed her. She was so close and so beautiful there in the starlight. I should have leaned in and taken her soft, pink lips with my own. I should have run my fingers along the smooth skin of her cheek and through her light strands of hair until I cupped the back of her head, holding her loosely but passionately against me.

What I should not have done is thank her for the ride and tell her I’d see her tomorrow, then fumble my way out of the seat belt and make an awkward retreat to the house. Yet that’s exactly what I did.

At least I’d given myself plenty to obsess about while I lay awake all night.

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Note: I received a free review copy of Timeless by Rachel Spangler. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.