Khanh the Killjoy

A Tale of Two Centuries

A Tale of Two Centuries - Rachel  Harris Actual rating: 3.5"I cautiously take down a pink bikini and hold it against me.Fear and an intense loathing for the man who created this form of clothing churn in my stomach."Apparently, this feeling is commonplace to any woman, of any age, from any era.This book was an unexpectedly pure fun to read. I hate using that word..."unexpected," but the truth is that premise behind this book and its contemporary high school setting is not one that typically appeals to me. This is going to sound like the most backhanded compliment ever, but this was a truly enjoyable, easy to read book despite the fact that it included just about every single high school trope I can think of. Backhanded compliment? Totally, right?The concept of time travel is for me...iffy. Besides the adult Outlander series, I've rarely encountered a book that does it well, and I was initially wary as I entered this book. Disclaimer: I did not read the first book, and as it turned out, I did not need to. I do not feel that not reading the first book in this series impeded my enjoyment or understanding of this book in any way. This book can be read as a standalone, even if the main character from the first book is prominently featured in this one, as well. The background of the first book is so subtly given to us and Cat and Alessandra (Less)'s history together were so well-explained that I did not feel that I missed anything at all diving into this book headfirst.I chose to read this one and not the previous book because for me, the premise of a girl from the past going into the present is more intriguing and interesting than a girl from the present going back in time. Hindsight being 20/20 and all that, it is just more fascinating to me to see how a character from history would deal with the modern-day world. And it is so hilarious to see how Less deals with the modern life, from her horror at wearing modern clothing compared to the all-encompassing dresses and corsets she is used to, to her first experience with...a particular piece of underclothing."'The string goes where?' I ask incredulously, dropping the garment from my fingers as if it holds the plague.'You heard me.''But surely it is uncomfortable to be lodged…in such'Cat shrugs. 'You learn to live with it.'That is where my dear cousin is wrong. Despite my agreement to wear modern attire, I certainly do not plan to learn such a lesson."Less is wonderful, a completely endearing, adorable character, with more complexity and character development than I would have thought in a light novel of this nature. We first meet her in this book when she is suffering from a broken heart due to a betrayal. Less has been a good girl all her life, a dutiful daughter, a loving sibling, a model of propriety...and it has gotten her nothing but heartbreak."I believe it was the hope of Matteo I loved more than the man himself. The dream that our union would quiet my growing discomfort with the role and skin I had been born into, the idea that a man could honestly care for me, not out of duty, but for who I was as a woman.My heartbreak is not over Matteo’s betrayal. It is over the death of that dream."Frustrated beyond herself, Less is ready to try something new, something like following in her future-day cousin Cat's footsteps. She travels to the future with the help of a mysterious woman, and ends up meeting the previously-known Cat and posing as her cousin. We see modern-day life through her prim, 16th century eyes, we smile at her naiveté, and we cringe at her errors as she learns. Less' speech is extremely formal, perfect for her time, but very out of place in the present. We stay with Less as she learns the basics of modern day life, and tries to live life the way she never has before...with abandon.Less is beautifully introspective. I loved reading her thoughts as she reflects upon her own character, her own life, her mistakes, and how she views love. I love seeing her as she grows from a prim, reserved Italian Renaissance lady into a stronger one, more confident in herself, more willing to take risks, make mistakes, even if it means getting hurt in the process."My faith remains in the truth I have fought so hard for my cousin to believe: the pain of not having [my feelings returned] may be excruciating, and it may not be worth the turmoil of heartache, but choosing to take a chance and living life always is."Honestly, I didn't find Less completely endearing all the way through. Her insta-love and then love/hate relationship with Austin frustrated me, and her actions towards the latter half of the book made me like Less considerably less (you knew that pun was coming). The latter half of the book was where this book got knocked down for me, otherwise, it would have been a solid 4, maybe even 4.5 stars. She is also altogether too perfect to be truly realistic (with "raw, natural" acting talents, but I enjoyed her character all the same.This book is not without its faults; I mentioned initially that it was filled with tropes, and it is. There is the bad-boy love interest (with a sad past, of course), the queen-bee bitch (who's more vulnerable than she lets on), the perky best friends, the love triangle, etc.The most annoying part about this book was Austin. I understand that he needed to be there to help her learn to live life to the fullest, but he was just a jerk most of the time. I don't like the bad-boy act, I don't think a bad past is a good excuse to be an asshole. He is very condescending and patronizing towards Less, he calls her "Princess" in a denigrating manner all the time, and it just really got on my nerves. Their hot and cold relationship frustrated me, and even if she does not like Austin all the time and calls him out on his poor behavior, it was annoying to me to see the excuses Less makes on Austin's behalf.Overall, still highly recommended for a light, fun read.