Fifteen year old Tommy and his parents go on a holiday in France. They participate in a house exchange. They exchange houses with another family in France who are supposed to live in a house similar in socio-economic status to their own. Only there seems to be a bit of a mix up. They end up in a Chateau belonging to a Comte and Comtesse. As Jasper, the butler, gives them the grand tour, Tommy and his mother feel a strange pull when the pass a sketch of the Chateau from 1599. The butler seems to notice the effect the sketch has on Tommy. Later during the tour, Jasper shows them a painting of a very beautiful woman. She is connected to the house somehow. Years ago, she married an Englishman.
So Tommy is drawn to this sketch. In fact, he ends up being drawn through into 1599 France. His name is Thomas, and he is the adopted son of the Comtesse and Comte de Romolue. It’s really strange because Tommy is English, yet he understands the French. He realizes that he switched places with Thomas (who is identical), but that he is able to access all the boy’s memories. Also, his cell phone still works. (His mom and dad pick up pretty quickly that something is afoot and look after Thomas). Oh yes! Jasper the butler is in the past as well, and seems to be able to travel through time. The best thing about this adventure, is that Tommy meets Eloise (Thomas’ cousin) who is the spitting image of the painting he had seen in the present.
Tommy picked quite a time to crash the past. It was right on the eve of Thomas’ becoming a man speech in church. The local priest, Drogo has plans for the Romolue family- their destruction. Where this hatred originates, no one knows. But Tommy suspects the man is hiding a secret. He wants to marry off Tommy to a member of the Toulouse family. So Tommy must make his way in this time armed with little more than his wits. During 1599, the church held a fantastic amount of power of the lives of people. No one wanted to confront a priest or his family. So Tommy walks a dangerous line. In addition, the priest does not like Eloise. In fact he almost seems to hate her.
He is unexpectedly helped by his adoptive mother the Comtesse as well as Jasper, the Butler. It is clear to the Comtesse that despite of outward appearances, Tommy is not her son. Tommy has something her son lacks- a spine. Yes, Tommy’s appearance at this crucial juncture is fortitous. Oddly so. Tommy’s wit and spunk are more than a match for Drogo. Drogo soon realizes that he’s picked the wrong boy with which to tangle.
Eloise was not the girl in the painting in the present day Chateau. It was her mother who did in fact marry an Englishman. Drogo had been assigned as a family priest and fell madly in love with Eloise’s mother. He was angry beyond belief when she married another. This Englishman, on a trip to England, was kidnapped by pirates who held him for ransom. If the family did not pay up, they would kill him. Eloise’s mother was pregnant at the time. The family did send messengers with the ransom, but Drogo had the messengers killed. It wasn’t known whether Eloise’s father was killed or not. Anyway, Eloise was born. Her mother never gave up hope. In fact she went to the cathedral to pray for his return one day and met Drogo there. When he realized that she was still in love with her husband, he killed her. His animosity for Eloise is explained. She looks identical to her mother. This drives him crazy. Tommy discovers the hiding place of Drogo’s confession. Anyway, the Comtesse (Eloise’s biological aunt), the Comte, Eloise, and Tommy vow vengeance on Drogo.
This is the first book in this series. Books 2 and 3 are already out. I will get to them in the future. The only thing I can say, is why have I never heard of this author before. I’m speechless! This was a thoroughly engrossing read!! There were a lot of mysteries. This house swapping thing was clearly no accident. I am wondering about the circumstances of Tommy and Thomas’ birth. It’s too much of a coincidence that both boys are identical and they can travel through time. It’s just so odd that in 1599 the Romolue’s need a strong son, and magically Tommy appears. Jasper and a couple of other characters including Drogo seem to manage this time traveling thing. You know I love time travel. I can’t wait to start the next book!