I loved this book. It rates as one of the best romantic novels I’ve read. Not only does Beatriz Williams make Wall Street dealings sexy, but Overseas offers a superb array of high concept ideas – the popular WWI era, time travel, two interconnected love stories, and heart-wrenching suspense – and melds them into an original, addictively readable package. Most of the novel plays out in modern Manhattan; the rest takes place near the trenches in northern France. The clincher: both involve the same man and woman.
In 2007, junior investment banker Kate Wilson is startled to attract the attention of renowned hedge fund CEO Julian Laurence during a meeting at her New York firm. Their flirty e-mail banter overwhelms her; this intensely private billionaire, with his gorgeous looks and old-fashioned British manners, should technically be out of her league. Though disarmed by Julian’s pursuit, she doesn’t understand the reason for his devotion or protectiveness – which lies in events from nearly a century ago.
In intervening episodes, a slightly older Kate arrives in Amiens, France, one rain-drenched evening in 1916. Desperate to find Julian Laurence Ashford, a youthful British Army captain and acclaimed war poet, she needs to warn him off a night patrol where she knows he’ll be killed. Julian doesn’t recognize Kate in this timeline, but she intrigues him, and he instinctively believes her – although his honor won’t let him send another soldier in his stead.
How these stories lock together is revealed toward the end of this grandly woven book. Williams is an impressive storyteller, and the novel compels with its absorbing dual-period mystery and memorable dialogue, which moves from witty to achingly beautiful. Her dashing, larger-than-life hero fits the classic Edwardian mold; think Rupert Brooke of a sort, but with a less troubled personality and a killer business instinct. I’ll be first in line for whatever she writes next.