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The Past and Present Collide - an Editorial Review of "Through the Veneer of Time"

Book Blurb:

A haunted painter's past life visions are not the creative inspiration they seemed. They're a harbinger of her ancient revenge vow, and her FBI husband won't find the serial killer until she fulfills it. But it may already be too late.

"Past and present lives collide in Vera Bell's hauntingly beautiful debut. A sexy, sensuous tale, where connections are never truly lost and love is the most powerful force of all."

— Julie McElwain, national award-winning journalist and author of A Murder in Time

"Vera Bell's novel successfully combines historical fiction, romance, and a contemporary thriller. The flashbacks to Ireland are particularly engaging, with detailed and vivid descriptions."

— Historical Novel Society

"A tantalizing medieval time travel novel. I give it 5 stars and hope to read more by Vera Bell!"

— Celtic Lady's Reviews

Book Buy Link:

Author Bio:

Imagine doing Past Life Regression (PLR) for the first time and emerging with a crazy book idea! That was exactly how I came to write my award-wining debut, “Through the Veneer of Time,” Book One of the time-travel romance trilogy, “Always and Forever.” But while my PLR session was a vivid, impassioned encounter, bursting with colors, sounds, smells, textures, and a bizarrely visceral knowledge, it was incomplete. Yet despite trying to go back, I never could. So I wrote the continuation in my head until it became so extensive and detailed, I had to put it on paper.

Besides being a writer, I’m a wife to my high-school sweetheart, a mother to two teenagers and one fur baby, a former commercial artist and boutique owner, and a member of the Historical Novel Society and Romance Writers of America. My favorite place to write is on my porch, overlooking a pond lined with river birches and magnolias. The topics I never tire of are Ireland, past lives, and love that transcends time and space.

Want to be in the know? Join my mailing list at VeraBellAuthor dot com and follow me on Facebook @ReadingBells and on Instagram @VeraBellAuthor.

Until the next story,


Editorial Review:

I stared into the darkness. Medieval warfare, serial killer in D.C., castle sieges, three victims, drawn swords, raped, then strangled.

Perhaps my avoidance of the case isn’t the answer.

The unexpected resolution took my mind off the subject, but sleep remained a distant possibility. As did any chance of meeting the museum deadline.

I groaned. What a waste this day had been. If I could travel back in time, I’d shut off my phone, enjoy my coffee, and maybe even produce the winning sketch. Or better yet, I’d travel to a life with no commissions and no first sketch reviews—as prescribed in that ridiculous past life tutorial. I turned on my side. The whole thing was in line with all the other outlandish material floating out there: astral projection, paganism, the occult, and who knew what else.”

Adjusting my perfectly adjusted pillow, I counted sheep when remembering the tutorial instructed counting backward from ten. This didn’t matter, of course. I wasn’t the intended audience for such nonsense. Rolling my eyes, I took a few deep breaths and tried to push aside all thought, focusing instead on my breathing, the oh-so-important prerequisite to time travel. Despite my inner smirks, I counted, relaxed and curiously detached.

Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Zero.

Was my mind now open to receive past life experiences?

A Niamh, a chailín chinn-óir!” A deep voice jolted me from my pleasant state.

I bolted upright, heart hammering. The voice was palpable, not at all dream-like. But Ryan was sleeping beside me, and nothing had changed in the room.

Holy crap, did the hypnosis work?”

It would be a dream come true if Siena were to land the commission to paint a medieval mural at the National Gallery of Art. Unfortunately, she is suffering from a serious case of creative block. On a whim, she wonders if she has a past life and half-heartedly attempts to self-hypnosis. But her half hearted attempt unknowingly opens up a vortex between her present and past life. Suddenly, she finds the inspiration she has been looking for to finish her painting. But the vortex she has opened between her life and her past life will have life-changing consequences…

Vera Bell's "Through the Veneer of Time: Irish Time Travel Romantic Suspense: 1 (Always and Forever)" is a beautifully compelling and timeless story. Readers with a romantic soul will be drawn to this heartfelt love story.

The romance is beautifully portrayed and perfectly aligns with the story’s theme. This book delves into the profound emotions of eternal love, a union of spirits. Adding the premise of reincarnation and a serial sex offender and murderer makes this book impossible to put down. It is both an enthralling crime thriller and a romantic tale.

The story jumps back and forth between the 21st and the 16th century. Unlike typical time-travel novels, Siena Forte doesn't physically journey to the past; rather, she drifts back primarily when she sleeps, although the past does spill into her everyday life - especially when she paints. In 16th Century Ireland, her life is completely contrasting to her current one, but oddly recognisable. The 21st century brings forth a feeling of déjà vu and a realisation that the important people in her life have been there for a significant period. The author's meticulous plotting is evident as every scene in this novel unfolds. The attention to even the smallest of details makes this book a true masterpiece.

Bell's historical setting has an authentic feel. She has depicted the magic of the era but also the hardships. The setting's wildness is a perfect fit for the protagonists - Ireland is both loving and cruel. The enthralling narrative showcases the hours of research invested in both the history and theology of this era. Bell's commitment to making her story as realistic as possible deserves applause. Similarly, Bell has crafted a believable contemporary setting. Bell has brought the past and present together with a masterful stroke of her quill.

Our situation as a couple was ironic. Here I was, married to an FBI agent who dealt in criminal homicide, armed robberies, and violent kidnappings, yet I had no stomach for these things. Especially for one thing, which aggravated my unfounded, incomprehensible phobia.


The word was like an arrow, loosed into some vulnerable, hidden place inside me. I dug my fingernails into my palms and squeezed my eyes shut. But my heart only thudded louder, and breath came faster in my chest, choking me—

Stop. Nothing is happening.

Stop. Nothing has ever happened.

Stop. Nothing will ever happen.

I stopped hyperventilating, dizzy with the effort. This was the reason I quit reading the headlines last week. A woman turning up dead in the nation’s capital, where I lived—no, thank you. Hard pass.”

Siena Forte is a passionate woman whose artistic skills are finally being noticed, but this will come at a terrible cost. Siena seemingly has the perfect life. She is married to a kind, passionate and devoted husband and lives comfortably. But she cannot help but worry for her husband, for he is an FBI unit commander who is currently on the hunt for the elusive “Ghost”. "Ghost" sexually assaults and then murders his victims, but he leaves not a trace of DNA. Although it is terrifying to know that this man is searching for his next victim, Siena cannot help but feel there is more to it. She cannot shake off the feeling that the answers may lie in her past life. Siena spends much of this book visiting her past life, and by doing so she begins to make sense of the present. Siena (Neave in 16th Century Ireland) is a character that really propels this story forward. In both eras, she faces unprecedented violence. She isn’t the kind of character that bounces back easily. What she suffers at the hands of another affects her both mentally and physically, but she is a survivor.

I made an oath in the presence of God to love and comfort you in sickness and in health, and I intend to keep it. I will keep it—I swear it.”

Ryan is the other principal protagonist in this tale. Married to Siena, Ryan is a man who is breathtakingly handsome but also very honourable. He is, however, a very fallible character who often gets things wrong. It takes him most of this book to realise that the conclusions he has jumped to about his wife are more about him than her. Ryan is certainly a fascinating character, although the reader learns more about what makes him tick in his past life than the contemporary one.

Apart from time, the antagonist in this tale is a man who always seems to be one step ahead of the protagonists. Unlike Siena, he is born with the knowledge of his past life. Without naming names, he is a respected, educated person, but he has a dark secret and one that could tear Siena and Ryan apart forever.

There are many scenes of violence, especially towards women, in this novel, some of which are truly harrowing and graphic. The author has quite rightly listed these trigger warnings at the beginning of this novel, therefore giving her readers an informed choice.

Vera Bell's "Through the Veneer of Time: Irish Time Travel Romantic Suspense: 1 (Always and Forever)" is a captivating story that will leave a lasting impression on the reader. It is a book that once read, is impossible to forget.


“Through the Veneer of Time” by Vera Bell receives five stars and the 'Highly Recommended” award of Excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



To have your historical novel editorially reviewed and/or enter the HFC Book of the Year contest, please visit


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