Secrets are kept to protect. Secrets are kept to survive. When Etta is suddenly thrust into another time, she realizes her life has been based on secrets. In an attempt to keep Etta safe, and keep a family heirloom out of the Irnonwood’s hands, Etta’s mother disappeared into the future. Now, if she wants to save her mother and return to her own time, Etta must find the ancient object that has been hidden for so long.
Nicholas has long been the Ironwood’s victim. In an attempt to secure his freedom, he agrees to watch over Etta and ensure that she brings the ancient object to them. Yet when Nicholas and Etta team up, he soon finds himself drawn to Etta.
As Nicolas and Etta work together, they follow clues left behind by Etta’s mother. The clues lead them across time periods and across continents. As they race to meet Ironwood’s deadline, they realize he is not the only one who wants the object. Can the two find the object and keep it out of the grasp of those who would use it to destroy their timeline?
The imagery and dialogue in Passenger jump off the page and engage the reader from the start. Action and suspense begin in the first chapter and lead the reader on an adventure that spans several centuries. For a story that has epic chases and attacks, the violence is not graphic. Although there is blood, the battle scenes are not gory or over the top.
The reader learns about racism through the eyes of Nicolas, as he struggles with being the son of a slave and a white landowner in the southern colonies. The cultures of the past cause interesting conflicts, as Etta’s worldview is based on the present.
Passenger is an excellently written book, with interesting characters, secrets galore, and suspense. However, the ending is set up for a sequel and leaves more questions to be answered. Because none of the book’s questions are answered in this installment, the reader will be left wondering what next?
- A few weeks after Etta and her boyfriend break up, she sees him kissing a girl in Central Park.
- Nicholas explains his parentage. “Nicholas’s mother had been the family’s slave, and Augustus had assaulted her, abused her, and in the end had never freed her.”
- Cyrus Ironwood tries to blackmail Etta. Cyrus tells her, “he was going to leave me so destitute I was going to have to resort to prostitution.”
- Etta and Nicholas are attracted to each other. “She traced his face . . . He pressed a hard, almost despairing kiss to [her hand]. But when she tilted her face up, half-desperate with longing, her blood racing, Nicholas pulled back.”
- Etta and Nicolas kiss several times. “He leaned forward and captured her lips, stealing the kiss himself until she had to come up and gasp for breath. Nicholas pulled her back under, and this time she did let go, only to take his beautiful face in her hands, to let his hands tangle in her hair, around her shoulders . . . he was breathing hard enough that she felt his heart jumping against her ribs, and she knew hers was doing the same. She turned, running her lips along the curve of his ear, her fingers pressed against the solid muscles of his back.”
- Nicolas looks at Etta and thinks, “Want. His exhaustion had boiled him down to his basest instincts. He wanted her lips, her touch, her esteem, her mind. Inside her. Beside her. With her.”
- When Etta and Nicolas are put in the same room to sleep, Etta goes to Nicolas’s bed and crawls in with him. “He ducked down kissing her, and she moved against him, urging him to touch her, to find the secret self that only ever seemed to exist with him. Etta felt him come alive in his own skin, felt the sheer stretch of him as he moved over her, with her, and she let herself fall into it, dissolving into him.”
- Etta’s mother is kidnapped and her family Alice is killed. “Blood sputtered from her chest, fanned out against Etta’s hands as she pressed them against the wound . . . Her next breath came raggedly, and the next one never came at all.”
- Etta wakes up on a ship that is under attack. During the attack, several people die. One crew member falls, “his chest shredded by balls of lead, his face a death mask of outraged disbelief.” During the fight, Etta stumbles over a dying man. “He wasn’t moving. He wasn’t blinking. She looked down, mind blank as it took in the dark liquid coating her skin, her chest, her stomach, the dress. Blood. Her snowy white skirt was drenched with thick crimson blood. She was crawling through that man’s blood.”
- Etta and Nicholas are chased by three men. “A pair of hands scooped Etta up by the elbows, hauling her back before she could get her feet beneath her. The smell of cologne and sweat flooded her nose, and she threw her head back, trying to hit some soft, fleshy part of him.”
- A man shoots at Etta. “The bullet went wide, striking the brick wall behind them. A splatter of dust and debris exploded into her hair, scratching the back of her neck.”
- In the jungle, Etta almost steps on a cobra. Nicholas shoots it, but the bullet also grazes Etta.
- Etta and Nicolas are again chased by men. Etta shoots at them, and they scatter.
- Someone tries to capture Etta. The attack is described over several pages. During the attack, Nicolas is shot. “She reached out, one hand gripping his arm to steady him, the other going to his side—where a large, wet patch of violently crimson blood was spreading.”
- In a final confrontation, a man holds a knife against Etta’s throat and later is shot in the shoulder. Etta and Nicolas are left in a desert to die.
- At the end of the story, one of the characters is found. “The face was unrecognizable, swollen and purple as a ripe plum. She’d been stripped bare to her waist, and three jagged stab wounds to the torso looked to be bleeding through the earthy salve and bandages covering them. A thin blanket had been draped over her supine form to protect her modesty.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Damn and hell are used frequently.
- Bastard is used in a couple of instances. “Despite the wash of blood at his feet and the bodies strewn around him, his features went as soft as a kitten’s. The old bastard couldn’t help himself in the presence of young ladies, especially those in need of rescue. . .”
- Nicolas says “bloody hell” a few times.
- During a battle, one man is killed. His dying words are, “Sent . . . down . . . to . . . devil . . . by-by-a-a shit-sack . . . negro.”
- Nicolas explains about time travel. “Christ. . . The first time I traveled, I attacked an automobile with an umbrella and nearly pissed myself in terror.”
- “Oh my God” is used several times.
- When Nicolas thinks, “And holy God, when she looked at him the ways she did now . . . he felt like he’d stepped into the blue-white heart of a flame.”
- Several of the characters are able to use portals to time travel.
- One of the characters describes his parents’ relationship. “Abbi and Ummi were not married—they could not be traditionally bound. It is forbidden for a woman of my faith to marry a man who is not. But Allah in all his wisdom still brought them together. . . It is blasphemous, I know; it goes against our teachings and beliefs, but I accept their choices. I cherish them in my heart. I cannot help but think, it matters not who you love, but only the quality of such a love.”