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The Hourglass by Barbara Metzger
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The Hourglass

by Barbara Metzger

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I often enjoy an historical romance as an escape from the books I read and review. So when I spotted this one on a bargain table I picked it up. This is the story of Sir Coryn - a long-dead Crusader who now works for Satan as a soul collector. He is one of many who attend the dying and bring those slated for Hell back to Satan. He's been doing this job for centuries. And during his collections he has been able to store away real-world trinkets and treasures - enough to line the pockets of a sultan. When the time is right, Coryn (known among the underworld as Ar) makes a gambling deal with the Devil - and wins! He is allowed to return to the world of the living but Satan gives him only six months in which to find his soul. Coryn's soul is contained in an hourglass brooch which Satan throws into the world and which Coryn must find in order to remain a man. On his journey back to this life, Coryn is accompanied by a gremlin who manages to tag along. After trying various forms the gremlin settles on being a talking crow who likes to say "Alive". But Coryn tells folks the bird is a bit dim-witted and is trying to say its name - "Olive". In order to redeem his soul, Coryn sets about doing good deeds - saving the lives of wounded soldiers at first. He then meets Imogene, the widow of a soldier who has been ostracized from the society of military wives and who is penniless and pregnant. Coryn convinces her to marry him. In due course, Coryn claims his ancient title and lands, Genie (his wife) is now a countess and he feels that together they can do good works for women and children. But the path to redemption is blocked by those who would do them ill. Can Coryn redeem himself in the time allotted? Will Genie learn to accept the eccentricities that make up her husband? Will Olive ever learn to speak the King's English?

A gripping tale of Life and Death, this one will have the reader turning the pages far into the night. The characters are multi-layered and slowly expose their layers to the reader. A welcome counterpoint is the crow and his antics and the hourglass room.

I enjoyed this book as it deviates from the historical romance boilerplate novel of two erstwhile lovers who find each other. I'll admit I read this book in two days. As this is my first Barbara Metzger book, I'll be anxious to look at her other works. ( )
  AuthorMarion | May 29, 2015 |
*Book source ~ Many thanks to Untreed Reads for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Coryn, Earl of Ardeth is really Ar Death and a reaper, a minion of the Devil. After centuries of reaping souls he wants a chance to be mortal and takes steps to that end in case he wins his gamble with the Devil. Win he does and the Devil has to put up or shut up. Making Ardeath mortal and then adding the caveat that Ardeath has to find his humanity and his hourglass (the brooch symbolizing his office) in six months or he will serve the Devil for all eternity. Ardeath is put down in the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo and immediately sets to work easing the pain and suffering of the soldiers. While there he comes across a penniless widow, Imogene Hopewell Macklin, who has been cast off from polite society. His solution to both of their situations is for them to marry before heading to London. The problems before them seem insurmountable, but Ardeath has been a reaper in Hell for centuries. He’s not about to give up now especially when his mortal future is beginning to look so bright.

Well, this is the second historical romance with a paranormal twist by Barbara Metzger that I’ve read and I have to say I loved it. Her stories are always so entertaining and light-hearted even when the characters seem as if they will never rise from their problems and despairs. The romance part takes a bit of a back seat in this until towards the end while the paranormal part is the majority of the story. However, it all comes together beautifully. The writing carried me along and I didn’t want to put it down. Ardeath is one interesting dude and Genie has some spunk. I quite enjoyed how she tried to ignore her new husband’s *cough* eccentric behavior. And Olive the crow is hilarious. I would not have been so forgiving of her family as Genie is, but other than that I love how she’s trying to go with Ardeath’s flow. A sigh-worthy romance that also entertains is a rare treat and this one fits the bill nicely. ( )
  AVoraciousReader | Feb 14, 2014 |
Generally I am not drawn to paranormal or time travel romances. I have recently discovered Barbara Metzger, however, so I read the first couple of pages of this unusual book while standing in the stacks at my library. I was hooked.

Our hero begins the story as "Ar," a grim reaper who has resided for 500 years in a place resembling Purgatory. He has plotted and planned for a chance to become human again for several hundred years. His chance finally comes when he wagers with satan and wins six months as a man. If he finds a particular hourglass (highly unlikely) he may be able to remain in human form, otherwise he will move to hell. Ar is willing to risk all for his dream. He is determined to fill his short time on earth doing good works in order to atone for his past sins.

His sojourn begins in the aftermath of Waterloo where he meets Genie, a desperate, fragile, pregnant, newly-widowed woman. From the start they are partners in good works, led by Ar, now Ardsley. We get to watch as he moves from chivalous knight of the Crusades with supernatural powers to a man capable of love and commitment in 1815. At the same time, Genie grows from a woman who has never known sincere love and has learned to distrust everyone to a warm woman able to accept and give love and trust.

This unusual book sparkles with flashes of humor, and the dance that Genie and Ardsley do as they embrace not only their partnership in making their world a better place for others, but in finding their home in each other's hearts. ( )
  rsstick | Oct 28, 2009 |
Barbara Metzger's books are such a delight to read. "The Hourglass" is a book filled with love and humor, faintly in the style of Heyer with a bit of extra passion.

Imogene is pregnant, widowed, stranded, and disgraced. When she is rescued by a beautiful, but very strange peer, she's not sure if he's quite right in the head but really has no other choice than to agree to his rash and hurried proposal.

Coryn is really Ar, a minion of the Grim Reaper, and after all his planning he's finally managed to become human again. His deal with the Devil states he has 6 months to find his humanity. If he cannot, he will become the Devil's plaything forever.

What an interesting concept. I think the imp/crow Olive was one of the funniest 'pets' I've ever read about in any book. With Coryn trying to redeem himself and Imogene trying to understand her sometimes insane husband, it takes these two a while to realize that they are falling in love. There are plenty of 'sidebars' to occupy the couple as they both try to help the other with sometimes humorous outcomes!

If you like a humorous historical romance, with not much danger, and mostly sexual tension until towards the end of the book, then you should check out Ms Metzger's novels. It's a great way to spend an afternoon and will leave you with a smile on your face. ( )
  jjmachshev | Jul 6, 2008 |
I wasn't sure I was going to like it even though I've loved everything I've read so far by Barbara Metzger. The storyline is not one I like - the whole coming back from the dead, bargaining with the Devil just isn't my cup of tea. But, it was cleverly done with Barbara's usual addition of comic relief. I did enjoy it immensely. Once again, she hasn't failed me. ( )
  jannief | May 14, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 045122079X, Mass Market Paperback)

Coryn, Earl of Ardeth, has spent an eternity in Hell. Fed up, he gambles with the Devil and wins a second chance: if he can find his heart, his soul, and his hourglass in six months, he can return to life.Then he meets Genie, a disgraced water-girl at the Battle of Waterloo. Now, her only hope is this crazy stranger-and she's half-terrified of and half-in-love with the eccentric earl. Together they have to find his humanity, her social acceptance, and overcome someone bent on destroying their lives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:52 -0400)

A study in Emerald -- The fairy reel -- October in the chair -- The hidden chamber -- Forbidden brides of the faceless slaves in the secret house of the night of dread desire -- The flints of memory lane -- Closing time -- Going Wodwo -- Bitter grounds -- Other people -- Keepsakes and treasures -- Good boys deserve favours -- Strange little girls -- Harlequin valentine -- Locks -- The problem of Susan -- Instructions -- My life -- Feeders and eaters -- Diseasemaker's croup -- Goliath -- Pages from a journal found in a shoebox left in a greyhound bus somewhere between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky -- How to talk to girls at parties -- The day the saucers came -- Sunbird -- Inventing Aladdin -- The monarch of the glen.… (more)

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