Journey In The Pandemic by Angela Stevens

The Hype

Taking a journey is always an exciting backdrop for a novel. Even in fiction, we look forward to exploring the exotic location and immersing ourselves in the food, culture, and the unfamiliar. We like to see what unique elements a foreign climate will throw at the poor unsuspecting characters, and how they will survive the mayhem. However, when planning my current travel to the UK, I was skeptical about whether I really wanted the twisty-turny plot that the cover and book description (A.K.A The News and Covid) were promising me. Actually, I hoped it would be boring and uneventful. I hoped that, for once, the star characters would reach their HEA (happily-ever-after) in a predictable and timely manner.

Journey

The Book Description

The Hero and Heroine have been watching the news for months, waiting for travel to the UK to open up and stay that way. It has been 3 years since they have seen their family, and there are pressing things for the couple to sort out over there. As soon as things stabilized with travel H and h couldn’t deny their destiny any longer. With flights booked, and fingers crossed, they set off on an adventure with high hopes that their travel would be drama free.

This is the second book in the series, and although nervous about traveling in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic world–or at least a popular dystopian plot–the plucky pair are optimistic. Even though in book 1 they had encountered many plot twists–a hunt for fuel, missing planes, a vanished crew, a pilot inexplicably in Wyoming when they were in Denver airport, a case of the wrong paper work, and a weird side story about the perils of the metric v’s imperial math systems and weight calculation, the main characters believed that this time they were prepared for whatever the author through at them.

The Prologue

After booking flights to England, a whole lot of fun and games ensue. Almost from page one, the reader could pretty much guess how this story was going to turn out. When the threat of quarantining for 10 days had been lifted by a surprising early plot twist– those vaccinated now didn’t have to!–our trusty hero and heroine were lulled into a false sense of security. But of course, by the next page, a whole new set of hurdles to jump over were introduced.

Act 1

Our characters now faced three trials to see if they were worthy of the quest. (Have you noticed, all the best stories have things happen in threes?)
Trial 1: 3 days before flying, a Covid test must be taken. The results received before flying (despite tests results taking 3 days or more to be completed!).
Trial 2: a repeat Covid test to be booked and taken within 2 days of arrival. (Not to mention locating the bizarre, mysterious building that the GPS had never heard of).
Trial 3: the hero and heroine must repeat trial 1 before flying home. And they must do so while taking a side trip to an undisclosed destination across the other side of the country.

This didn’t faze the plucky adventurers. They were more than happy to conform. The last thing they wanted was to endanger any fellow passengers or family they might encounter on their quest in England. They took a trip through the CVS drive through, and by some miracle, procured their results in 24 hours. A little too easy, I thought, the author could have created more drama here. After gathering together important secret documents to prove their victory and filling out an extensive passenger locator form, they headed to the airport. (At this point, I suspected that locator form would become a key plot point later, so I squirreled that away, on the look out for when the characters might whip it out and use it to defy the villain, or perhaps the villain would use it against them.)

The characters journey took them to Charlotte airport where they expected to confront chaos and very slow queues. They had been forewarned of such obstructions by an earlier visit to this location. With test one secured in their baggage, they anticipated the next plot twist, so arrived at the airport three hours early.

Balancing expectations

I expected the worst for the characters. The author had already set up a plethora of dangers for them to face. News story full of travel horrors. People being detained in Customs at Heathrow Airport for more than five hours, fainting from lack of air and access to food and water. Two days before flying, another bad seed was sown, severe fuel shortages due to a lack of lorry drivers, should be expected.

Our heroes made peace with their rocky road. After a little wobble, where they doubted their sanity at taking on this quest, they decided there was no choice, they needed to get to the UK and they were prepared to use a whole year of patience to do it.

Plot twists are over-rated

You know when you pick up a book and expect one type of story but get a whole different one instead, and you read that story thinking any minute now, there is going to be one big plot twist and the story will give you what you expected? Well, this tale is not like that.

Arriving three hours early, the characters were through all the new screening processes at the airport, they had navigated the unprecedented short lines through TSA, and they had arrived at the departure gate in less than twenty minutes. After more than two hours wait, they boarded the plane, which took off on time!

Airplane Angela Stevens

I was still waiting for a twist, but none came. It transpired that the plane was quite empty. Passengers were able to socially distance, and used the extra space to stretch out and have a restful trip. On board food was not only provided, but it was delicious, and they enjoyed a couple of glasses of red wine to celebrate.

They arrived in England an hour early.

Aha! Now there would be trouble. The airport won’t be open and they will encounter zombies in the horrendous queues the news anchor man had forewarned us about. Perhaps that passenger locator form was going to rear its ugly head, too.

But no.

There were no queues and no zombies, just helpful staff, and a straight line through border control, where they received a casual ‘welcome back’ from the guard. They then collected their luggage and were at the car rental before the plane’s scheduled arrival time.

I presumed there would be trouble ahead because the heroes had booked a car for 10 am, but now they were two hours early. Except still their luck didn’t falter. Five minutes later, they were on the motorway, heading north on a four hour car drive to their destination.

Act 2

The characters were on the home straight. But avid readers know this is the part in a novel where things go south. Our hero is lulled into a false high. And then things are turned upside down. So, with rain pouring, they set their jaws and kept a look out for the next plot twist. I was sure it was going to involve running out of gas, but as they crept closer to their destination, the ‘fuel not available’ signs vanished, and beautiful rainbows welcomed them.

Act 3

Never happened.

Instead, the heroes headed unscathed towards a HEA. They found the mysterious building for their covid tests and then performed the second trial. And the results came through in less than twenty-four hours. They saw their family and took care of business. The only challenge they faced was rain and they had no umbrellas.

Summary of the Book

Journey In The Pandemic by Angela Stevens is a very boring novel. The heroes arrived all in one piece, with no hiccups, no delays. And they passed the three trials with flying colors. I have my fingers crossed that the sequel, Return Journey In The Pandemic will go as smoothly. Surprisingly, I have found this author’s lack of imagination quite refreshing. Perhaps there should be more stories where everything has gone to plan. And the stars of the novel do not have to go through hell to get their HEA.

Afterword

Joking aside, I want to thank all the people who made our journey boringly quick and tediously uneventful. Especially in these unprecedented times. Every single person we came into contact with greeted us with a smile. And they helped get us where we needed to be. They did a fantastic job against the backdrop of sensationalized news articles, all while wearing masks for our safety. I for one, would like to knight every bloody one of them. Seriously, they all need a pay raise and, if it wasn’t for covid, a great big hug. It has given me a glimmer of hope. The dystopian-esque novel we’ve been stuck in feels like it is almost over. And I am finally beginning to believe we will reach the end with no more plot twists.

For much more interesting and exciting story lines you can check out Angela Stevens books on Amazon, or sample one of her rom-com stories in the Author’s billboard boxed set Cute but Crazy.

Fourteen years and a pandemic later…

It is my firm belief that all great love stories start with a spark of madness. I know mine did. My relationship with my husband was like a volcano – for years it burned so slowly and silently no one knew it was there, until one day when it erupted and the hot lava consumed everything in its path. Except there was nothing destructive about our love. All we had was a burning desire to be together. But since many people were opposed to that idea, we did the only thing we could so that everyone would leave us alone: we eloped and got married.

output_IT5Cf3Was it crazy? Definitely. Impulsive? Hell, yeah! Was it wrong? Not by a long shot. It was the best decision we ever made, and the proof is that on April 15th we celebrated our 14th marriage anniversary. We didn’t actually realize we were soulmates when we said our timid YES fourteen years ago, but now we know we were born to be together.

I see a lot of couples going nuts because they’re quarantined together, and I have a confession to make (please don’t hate me!): my hubby and I love it! We enjoy every moment spent together, we find ways to accommodate each other’s schedule, and when one wants to do something relaxing that the other doesn’t care for, we simply go our separate ways and give each other some space. Neither of us are very sociable creatures, and we always prefer each other’s company, so the pandemic didn’t change our lifestyle as much as it did for others.

The only thing that I regret is not being able to go ahead with our plans for this year’s anniversary. My husband is a great fan of André Rieu, and I wanted to surprise him earlier this year with tickets to a concert. But then the coronavirus happened, proving to us once more how much life can change in a month, or in a week, or even in a second.

I woke up a little sad the morning of our anniversary, but when I told my husband why I was sad, he said the only thing that matters is that we’re together and we’re healthy. That alone makes us blessed. I confess I felt ashamed of my shallowness. Here I was, pouting because we couldn’t go to a restaurant, or a concert, while people all over the world were taking their last breaths, defeated by a war with this invisible enemy.

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Husband and wife, fighting on the front line together.  

This was only one of the many precious lessons I learn every day from the wonderful man I share my life with – to treasure every moment, to be more patient, to appreciate the small things and find joy in everything.

What many people don’t understand is that marriage is hard work, but sharing your life with the right person is the most beautiful and rewarding thing. Not because of social status, not because of any obligations, but because finding true love as is rare and precious as an exotic flower. And in that spirit, you don’t need only to discover that flower, you need to take care of it every day, to help it grow and thrive.

I’m sad for all those who don’t get to experience the wonderful, ultimate fulfillment of growing old with the person you love. Loneliness is hard, whether it is by choice or by fate. Not many people are willing to give as much as they get in a relationship. Not many people realize how much – or how little – they have to offer, and have unrealistic expectations from their partners. They don’t know how to be tolerant, how to be altruistic, how to love and be loved. Some think they are entitled to a lot, others are willing to give much more than they receive and end up abandoning themselves completely to someone who doesn’t want or deserve it.

It’s crazy that such a simple but fragile balance leads to so many broken lives. All I can say from my own experience is that not everyone is cut out for marriage, and not everyone wants it. If I’ve learned a valuable lesson it’s that before you make your demands you have to make sure you’re ready to give as good as you get. But not like in a bargain. Like in a partnership. Like in a two-piece puzzle that you want to be part of for the rest of your life.

Be happy, and be loved! ❤

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A different kind of celebration. Happy 14th anniversary to us!