Saturday, October 31, 2015

REVIEW: Tales of the Traveler: Hemlock by N. J. Layouni

Tales of the Traveler: Hemlock
by N. J. Layouni

Publisher: Createspace (self published?)
Page Count: 400
Release Date: May 21, 2014
Format: Trade Paperback

How got: free giveaway on GoodReads

First attention getter: genre of time-travel romance


From GoodReads:

When a modern-day woman finds herself stranded in a medieval world, an attractive outlaw offers her protection in the role of his 'wife', and promises to help her find a way back home. Until then, Martha must attempt to fit into medieval society, avoid the Evil Earl and his minions, and learn how to trust her heart again.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 3

This book started out strong. Yet, as it got closer and closer to the end, it fell into a melodramatic soup that it never really escaped from. So a bit mixed on this one.

I liked our main heroine, Martha, for the most part. She’s feisty and thinks on her feet. Where another girl could get caught up in the whole “transported to another world” thing and have a melt-down, she keeps her head and comes up with plans and strategies to survive and make a life for herself. Sometimes her actions are not as well thought out as they could be, but she does stuff! Not your normal damsel in distress here.

I liked that the world felt real enough. We didn’t get to explore more than a medieval village or Edgeway but what we got was very detailed and nice to go through. I got enough of a vibe of medieval to make the setting believable. The people that inhabited those settlements also added depth to both the setting and story.

I also enjoyed the romance. It wasn’t immediate love; it developed over a space of weeks and months. There was an immediate attraction, but the relationship took time to get on the level of romance. That gave it an air of believability which I enjoyed.

Where this story started to lose itself was when melodrama reared its ugly head. At one point, Vadim seems to think that Martha is a traitor, agent of the Evil Earl, out of nowhere. The only thing this may have come from was that she was coming from the direction that the Earl was in. I mean, really?!?! That’s all it took to trip Vadim’s “untrust” meter?? Better not be traveling from the direction the Earl is in, folks! Means you’re in cahoots with him!

It only went downhill from there. Alternately, Martha or Vadim would assume that one party was thinking one thing and so act in illogical or stupid ways. Many times, this led to life threatening situations or the Earl getting onto them. These two could do with a serious case of “communication”, pronto! And don’t get me started on the whole “Evil” Earl thing…. I mean, did it need to be capitalized EVERY time?? You know what, I think this is our bad guy!! *eye roll*

So starting out well but finishing with a whimper, this book had its ups and downs. I enjoyed certain elements but found the overall air of melodrama tiring. I’m interested enough in maybe reading the second book someday, but I’m not heading out right away to buy it. Still, not a bad effort for a first time author. I hope she grows more and produces more works.

Note: Book received for free from author via GoodReads FirstReads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I certainly enjoy time travel romance, but the Evil Earl element sounds silly. I do like the cover, though. Professional.

    1. Whomever designed that did do a good job. It draws the eye which can only help an indie title. But this one could do with a glimpse from an editor or somebody. Some of the elements were hard to read, that whole "Evil Earl" thing only being a prime example.