Monday, April 14, 2008

The Ultimate Passage by Jean Hackensmith & Kathe Birch--Book Review

In the year 2320, Darius Calhoun is President of the United States. The men of his family have been appointed as presidents for generations; ever since Michael Calhoun solved the world's problems. Due to fatal diseases caused by pollution, in addition to, overpopulation and sexually transmitted diseases, the citizens of Earth now live in domed cities where sex has been outlawed and no one experiences emotion of any kind...except the rebels who live outside the domes who prefer to act more like humans than mind-numbed robots.

But the cost is high--they die at alarming rates from cancer and a new strain of AIDS that kills within months; not to mention that they have to grow their food in greenhouses because the soil is contaminated.

Darius is horrified when he is suddenly plucked out of his own time period and dropped into 14th century Scotland. Not only are the conditions unsanitary, he's expected to advise Robert the Bruce, the self-proclaimed King of Scotland, on war tactics, even though war hasn't existed in his time for over two hundred years.

Lara Macgregor, the oldest daughter of the lord of the castle, is a big help to Darius and they quickly become friends. But Lara wants more than friendship--she wants a mate. Darius knows that means having sex and he sure isn't about to do something that he's been brought up to believe is wrong. Funny thing is his body and mind have begun to change since Darius arrived and for the first time in his life he begins to feel and to want things he never did before.

When six other time travelers appear in 14th century Scotland they know it must be for a reason--especially when many of them knew each other at some period in time. As the war for independence in Scotland gains momentum, Darius and the other time travelers are thrust into the tumultous events that unfold and try to uncover why they are all there in the first place. When one of the lord's most trusted knights becomes an enemy, everyone at Castle Macgregor is put in grave danger...particularly Darius, who this knight sees as a rival for beautiful, spunky Lara's affections.

I can honestly say that I have never read a book like The Ultimate Passage ever before, but after reading it I am determined to read the rest of the books in this saga.

Since I hadn't read the first three books--Charmed Passage, Destined Passage and Doomed Passage--I couldn't possibly have known all that transpired between the six time travelers that dropped into 14th century Scotland. Hackensmith provided just enough detail so that I could piece together their pasts, but left out plenty that would keep readers of the past three books from getting bored learning what they already knew.

Each character is so well-developed that I swear in a different place and time I could have known him and her. To watch Darius put in a position where he was forced to call into question all that he had been taught made him a sympathetic character, but the reader also encourages him to reach out for Lara's love and all it entails.

A perfect mix of historical events and people tossed together with several lively fictional characters makes The Ultimate Passage a must read. A complex and riveting plot is expertly delivered by Hackensmith. And Birch must be commended for her thorough research that places the reader into 14th century Scotland and the time of knights and chivalry.

My only disappointment is in knowing that this is the end of The Passage Saga.

Action, adventure, and most of all romance make this a book you won't be able to put down. The Ultimate Passage by Jean Hackensmith and Kathe Birch is every romance lover's dream.

Title: The Ultimate Passage (Book 4 of The Passage Saga)
Authors: Jean Hackensmith and Kathe Birch
Publisher: Port Town Publishing
ISBN-10: 1-59466-101-4
ISBN-13: 978-1-59466-101-3
U.S Price: $22.95

Find out more about The Passage Saga here. And look for Jean Hackensmith's new romantic thriller Checkmate, which is due to be released in May 2008.

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