Friday, October 6, 2023

Editorial Book Review: Times of Turmoil by Anna Belfrage #HistoricalFiction #Timeslip #EditorialReview #TheCoffeePotBookClub

*Editorial Book Review*

Times of Turmoil

The Time Locket Book #2

by Anna Belfrage

It is 1718 and Duncan Melville and his time traveller wife, Erin, are concentrating on building a peaceful existence for themselves and their twin daughters. Difficult to do, when they are beleaguered by enemies.

Erin Melville is not about to stand to the side and watch as a child is abused—which is how she makes deadly enemies of Hyland Nelson and his family.

Then there’s that ghost from their past, Armand Joseph Chardon, a person they were certain was dead. Apparently not. Monsieur Chardon wants revenge and his sons are tasked with making Duncan—and his wife—pay.

Things aren’t helped by the arrival of Duncan’s cousin, fleeing her abusive husband. Or the reappearance of Nicholas Farrell in their lives, as much of a warped bully now as he was when he almost beat Duncan to death years ago. Plus, their safety is constantly threatened as Erin is a woman of colour in a time and place where that could mean ostracism, enslavement or even death.

Will Duncan and Erin ever achieve their simple wish – to live and love free from fear of those who wish to destroy them?

She should probably have kept her mouth shut. But Erin Melville wasn’t the type of woman who turned the other way when a big, hulking brute of a man chose to punish a scrawny boy in the middle of the street.

Dragged through time, Erin does not belong in this century, but here she is, in 1718. In these times of repression, Erin is a woman of colour and she is married to a man that is white. They must be cautious as there are already talks of laws that could prohibit marriages between whites and non-whites. Erin must be careful not to engage in any behaviour that attracts attention. Upon witnessing a young indentured slave being beaten by his master, Erin felt obligated to step in and stop it. But in doing so she makes an enemy. An enemy that will do anything to ruin her…

Anna Belfrage's Times of Turmoil (The Time Locket Book 2) is a stunning time-travel tale that is brimming with adventure, love and turbulence.

I am a big fan of Belfrage's The Graham Saga series, so I was ecstatic to find out she had written a spin-off series. I knew I was in for a treat since Belfrage is an author who never fails to deliver.

Erin and Duncan Melville are the central characters in the story, but their relationship is far from ordinary since Erin is from the 21st century and Duncan from the 18th. The locket holding the painting is their greatest fear as it has the power to throw people back and forward in time - it was, after all, how they met in the first place. Belfrage's skill in creating captivating time-travel narratives shines through in this book. It's an absorbing story that I became thoroughly invested in.

Erin was a character that I instantly connected with, but she has been thrown back in time into a world that is thwarted with danger for someone like her - she is a coloured woman who now lives in a world where she is classed at best as a second class citizen and at worse, a commodity - a slave. The novel requires Erin to be extremely cautious not to draw attention to herself, but her contemporary views sometimes conflict with the era she finds herself in. In this novel, Erin is subjected to significant hardships mostly due to her skin colour, yet she demonstrates immense courage and a strong will to live a fulfilling life with her loved ones. Erin was portrayed fabulously and I really adored her.

I thought Duncan’s portrayal was fabulous. He's fiercely protective of his family, particularly his spouse. He is fully aware of the dangers that Erin faces because of the colour of her skin, and although he tries to keep her out of trouble, that isn’t always possible. He's not perfect, and his handling of Lettie shows that, but it makes him more human in the telling.

The era has been portrayed by Belfrage with a sharp grasp of the historical context. Young Tim's portrayal is used to scrutinise the revolting treatment of indentured slaves. Despite being a child, he is beaten and abused as his "master" deems appropriate. Belfrage doesn't shy away from the appalling treatment that Tim has to bear, which makes the reading quite challenging at times. Witnessing a child being severely beaten, I would have done what Erin did and intervened. The fact that no one else did was perhaps very telling of the era. But Erin’s intervention also demonstrated the kind of woman she is. Although her husband warned her to avoid the spotlight because of her skin colour, she cannot stand by and watch a child being beaten so cruelly. Belfrage is no stranger to writing about indentured slavery, having previously addressed it in Like Chaff in the Wind (The Graham Saga Book #2). In both this book and Like Chaff in the Wind, Belfrage demonstrates that, while a few were lucky with their master, a majority of indentured slaves experienced hardship and cruelty. Tim's efforts to prevent his master from killing him during a fit of rage showed the child's desperation but also his ingenious. In contrast to Tim's treatment, Hans is under Duncan's indenture. Hans is treated more like a member of the family than a slave.

The other big historical topic Belfrage explores is that of race. The transatlantic slave trade was in full swing, and people of colour were regarded as inferior. In this novel, Erin is a coloured woman, married to Duncan, a white man. Such a marriage was looked down upon, and it was during this time that laws were passed to make marriage and sexual relations between whites and non-whites a criminal offence. Erin and Duncan find themselves in an impossible situation. Their love is unshakeable, yet they still have to reconsider their plans for the future and more importantly, where they will reside. Erin and Duncan's fear about their future was portrayed masterfully, but it was also extremely upsetting, especially for Erin. Erin considered it a blessing that her daughters have fair complexions, so they wouldn't face any criticism when they were older, but she worries that any future children would be of darker colouring which I thought was heartbreaking as she is such a lovely mother. Although it is uncomfortable to read from a modern perspective, it does put 18th-century America into a historical context. Belfrage makes her readers stop and think about what life was like for free-coloured people in colonial America.

Belfrage's final topic delves into domestic violence and depicts the lack of power women had in leaving an abusive marriage during this period. Belfrage has effectively portrayed the true horrors of violence through Lettie's characterisation and she also highlights the husband's advantage under the law. Lettie is a woman who wants to survive and is desperate to escape her endless tormenter, but when she dares to flee she lives in constant fear. She knows that by law she belongs to her husband, and if he finds her she has no choice but to go with him. I felt great sympathy for Lettie, she is a strong woman who has endured so much. At times, in the story, she did play the race card when addressing Erin, but I thought that was done mostly because of jealousy - she wanted a husband like Duncan, not one like Emrick.

The Time Locket Book 2: Times of Turmoil by Anna Belfrage is an amazing story that will have you flipping pages till dawn.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club

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Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

More recently, Anna has been hard at work with her Castilian series. The first book, His Castilian Hawk, published in 2020, is set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales. His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain, while the third, Her Castilian Heart, finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain! The fourth book, Their Castilian Orphan, is scheduled for early 2024.

Anna has recently released Times of Turmoil, the sequel to her 2021 release, The Whirlpools of Time. Here she returns to the world of time travel. Where The Whirlpools of Time had Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin navigating the complexities of the first Jacobite rebellion in Scotland, in Times of Turmoil our protagonists are in Colonial Pennsylvania, hoping for a peaceful existence. Not about to happen—not in one of Anna’s books!

All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Readers’ Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website,

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  1. Thank you for a lovely and insightful review. Better than a glass of bubbly on this Friday evening!