Time travel. Romance. They go together like Bogie and Bacall, thunder and lightning, mashed potatoes and gravy.
It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. And I’ve read quite a few. But then one day I stopped reading them. Because I was sick of them.
Something deep inside began to balk against the knight or highlander or king’s soldier or Earl’s wide shoulders and strong thighs and muscles for days living on a 6’ frame.
How good was nutrition back then? Not very! Did they have kale? An overabundance of quinoa?
Why is the heroine always 25 with amazing green eyes or amazing blue eyes while the male has piercing blue eyes or piercing gray eyes or piercing gold eyes?
How does the heroine get away with showing her cell phone to people and not getting burned at the stake, like, immediately afterwards?
I’d like to write an anti-romance time travel novel.
Instead of reading about a 22-year-old with pert breasts and amazing blue eyes, I want to hear about the 45-year-old who’s really stiff ‘cause she quit yoga recently due to a rotator cuff tear.
This woman will not touch a necklace, a ring, a locket, drive her car into a fog, fall and hit her head, open a box, put on a scarf, and end up in the 1200s.
She will be a scientist/inventor, build a time machine, and be transported to the 1200s by accident after a test run.
This woman will not get a ride on a horse with a man in a kilt and, while attempting to get more comfortable, snuggle her bottom into his groin, inadvertently turning him on.
She will be a bodybuilder. A 45-year-old bodybuilder with a rotator cuff tear. And she will not fit on the horse. With him on it too.
She will NOT go back to England or Scotland or Ireland and begin to understand Old English or Middle French because of having conveniently studied it in college.
She will not understand what anybody’s saying. Ever.
Which will cause a lot of problems and almost get her killed. Or at least probably jailed. Until they decide to hang her. Especially after everybody realizes she’s a woman and not a man (because she’s a bodybuilder).
But someone sympathetic to her situation and, of course, intrigued by her, will, at the last minute, keep her from the pyre.
At least she will have the sense not to pull her cell phone out and show it to anybody.
As for him, her romantic counterpart, I’ll have her go back to Shaka Zulu’s time maybe. Shaka Zulu actually WAS 6’2” back in the 1800s.
The creator of a revolutionary warfare style, he unfortunately became unbalanced after mother died, demanding a certain amount of mourning, and evidently murdered 7,000 people he deemed insufficiently grief-stricken. He was assassinated by his half-brothers.
Perhaps my muscle-bound scientist could travel to 1800s Africa and influence Shaka away from being such a mama’s boy.
Xiahou Dun—General Who Calms the Waves. Who wouldn’t want to get to know someone with a name like this? Can you imagine bringing him home to meet the folks, saying, “Mom, Dad, this is General Who Calms the Waves. You can call him General WCW.”
220 AD, serving under warlord Cao Cao in the late Eastern Han dynasty, Dun was a soldier who enjoyed the arts on the side and had scholars tutor him, led a frugal life and used his excess wealth to help the needy.
My heroine’s modern sensibilities and, of course, humanitarian outlook would certainly inflame this guy’s primal instincts, wouldn’t they?
Raja Raja Chola was one of the greatest sovereigns of 10th and 11th century South India, a valiant conqueror, empire builder, quixotic yet grounded administrator, and patron of arts and letters. Nickname: Raja Raja the Great.
Folks, meet Raja Raja the Great and (let’s say) Monica Raja Raja the Great. After a whirlwind of electrifying turmoil and emotional warring between her and Raja, he would eventually accept her as his Principle Assistant and First Wife and Equal Partner.
I don’t know. My story would probably bomb. Badly.
But I know one thing.
When given the chance to return to her own time, my heroine wouldn’t think twice.
Love is grand and all that, but who in their right mind would really choose to remain in a time where a splinter in your finger could easily become a raging infection that Neosporin would have taken care of in two seconds back in the 21st century?
Although my heroine, Monica, would no doubt hightail it out of there the first chance she got, she would also probably do her damndest to talk her guy into coming into the future with her. She would help him adjust, help him get a job. They would work it out somehow.
And although I may rail against all the usual elements of time travel romance, pooh-poohing perfect beauty and a selfless willingness to abandon all that’s familiar for “someone who finally ‘gets’ them”, somewhere deep down, I understand and I forgive them.
Because I still remain, in my heart of hearts, an incurable romantic, a sentimental ideologue. A fool, a stooge, a sucker. An unrepentant lover of love.