Saturday, November 19, 2011

Johnny Doesn't Drink Champagne by Cody Young

I’m seventeen and he’s twenty-one.
That’s okay … isn’t it?

He drives a Lamborghini.
So what?

He was born in 1462.
He seeks revenge, but there is one person standing in his way.

On a high school trip to London, Madison Lambourne meets seductive stranger Johnny De Vere, who believes he knows her already, and is torn between love and revenge.
Eager to learn more about this beautiful, lonely, young man, Madison agrees to go with him to a re-enactment at the Tower of London. Dressed as a highborn medieval lady in a black velvet gown, she accidentally slips through a doorway that leads to the past. Knowing she will not last long on the streets of medieval London, Johnny must follow her … with devastating consequences for them both.

A wild time-travel adventure full of love, lies, mystery and betrayal.

Reviewer: avidscribe
What if you could change the past? What if you knew something was going to happen, something really bad, and you thought you could find a way to stop it? Wouldn’t it be your duty to do something? Wouldn’t it be your duty to ... at least ... try?

Seventeen year old Madison Lambourne has come to England on a class field trip and runs into Johnny De Vere at Heathrow airport as she waits for her baggage. He seems to know her but she has never seen this embodiment of male perfection in her life and is instantly smitten by his fiercely intelligent eyes, silky dark hair, lovely angles of face and GQ garb. 'Are you Madeleine?' he asks. The name is close but not hers. When she tells him no, he is confused and crumples a note in his hand and bitterly tosses it to the floor. Curiosity compels her to scoop up the note when he is not looking and she is stunned to recognize the handwriting on it. It is undeniably her own but written on a thick vellum parchment with a pen quill that is anachronistic to modern times. The letter says ‘Forgive me, in time you will forgive me.”

The mystery is afoot.

She meets Johnny again at the Tower of London. He is a Patron of the Tower with an office there. When her best friend and fellow classmate suddenly falls ill, Madison (Maddie for short) gets lost in the Tower while looking for a water fountain to retrieve water for her. By the time she returns to where her group was, she finds herself alone and abandoned ... except for Johnny who offers to take her back to the hostel she’s staying at. Only, instead of taking her home he brings her to the Grange in Kent, wanting to see if Maddie is actually this Madeleine he believes her to be, to see if something at the Grange will trigger a moment of recognition. He is especially intent to see her reaction to a medieval barn there and when she expresses no awareness, he is downcast. Maddie spots a Model T Ford and a Lagonda from the 1920s stored with other vintage cars there in the barn and asks if he likes collecting old cars. Johnny smiles slyly and tells her he buys them new as he sees them.

He is confused and frustrated that she doesn’t seem to know him or pick up on the bread crumbs he’s laying down for her to follow. She looks the same but she is not. For her part, she is drawn to this beautiful man but wary of his intentions. He invites her to a special performance at the Tower for the next night where she can wear a medieval costume and say a few lines in the play. It is obvious he is intent to make her see a connection she doesn’t have as yet to him. After the performance, Maddie is left alone and wanders the Tower halls and finds an unguarded door and proceeds to walk through it—unwittingly into the year 1483. She is quickly joined by Johnny who explains the door is a time portal, where each month the time beyond it changes seemingly at random but the place is always the same—London, England. He is a member of a secret society that guard something called the River of Time, so called probably because time is fluid.

We get hints that Johnny is more than he appears to be. There’s the comment about the car collection. His hands are cold when she touches them. He cannot join her in her first drink of champagne and stares wistfully as he orders up a dinner of chicken and damsons for her that he says is his favorite but he gets none for himself.

Ultimately, Maddie discovers he is a vampire and should be repelled but is not. She is drawn to this man and has no explanation for it. The guardians of the time portal are all vampires, entrusted to literally bar the portal from wanderers who might walk through and upset the balance of time. Added to the story mix is Maddie's attempt to connect with her real father who lives and works in London and who she hasn't seen in 15 years. When she arrives unannounced to his office he bolts from the room and we never discover why. The mystery will undoubtedly play out in the next book.

Madison’s foray into merry olde England is fraught with danger as she’s a 21st century girl trying to fit into a time and language she has no comprehension of. She needs to fit in and even opening her mouth to speak causes raised eyebrows because she doesn't speak the native tongue. She overhears a plot to murder two small boys in the tower and decides she must, at all costs, save these two innocents. The fact that they are Edward Quintus and Richard, Duke of York and it is their uncle, King Richard III who is trying to kill them doesn’t dissuade her from wanting to intercede. But this means changing history. It is forbidden. It is dangerous. Is it even possible?

With no plan in hand, she winds up getting separated from Johnny when he is accidentally exposed to sunlight and nearly charred. As he starts to heal, he begins to rant that he that he can’t go through "it" again and must stop what is about to happen and abruptly tells her he has to leave but will catch up with her as soon as he is able. She doesn't know what he's upset about, so many things he says seem to belong to a history she doesn't share.

I found myself worried for Maddie without Johnny’s protection in this medieval era but time proves how fluid a thing it is when she meets another Johnny—one before he was turned vampire. Time is fluid, yes, but time is also a circle, much like a wedding band as Maddie discovers for herself when she falls under the spell of the human Johnny and tries to prevent his own future from happening.

I give this a four out of five star rating. The author has taken great lengths to make her tale a standout. The characters are relatable and seductively intriguing. The YA plot is Fantastic with a capital F and I can’t wait for the next book in this series to come out. On a sidenote, there are those naysayers out there that are saying vampire novels are becoming passé. This book proves them emphatically wrong.


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