Guest Eli Donovan Talks Dinosaurs/Time Travel/Romance in TIME TRAITORS

VS: Full disclosure here, the author is a close relative of mine, has published under other pen names as well, and I was one of the beta readers for this book.  It’s got dinosaurs, a sweet romance and lots of action and adventure – what’s not to like?! Scifi with strong romantic elements.

I was excited to have her here today to tell us more about the book and share an excerpt.

The blurb: “Jurassic Park meets Romancing the Stone” – Dr. Grace Carson is one of the lucky few scientists cleared for time travel. Years ago, her husband nearly destroyed her career by poaching dinosaurs. Grace turned him in, divorced the deadbeat, and two years later she’s ready to return to the work she loves: studying dinosaurs in their natural habitat. She has no interest in the new time agent, Ben Nakamura, assigned to her research station. No matter how charming or clever he is.

Unfortunately, her team isn’t alone. Poachers are trapping dinosaurs for the black market again. Another scandal like this could kill her research if it comes out, and Grace’s boss wants her to look the other way until the thieves are gone. But Grace can’t bring herself to let the criminals get away.  When the poachers discover Grace’s plans to blow the whistle, they attack her research station. Nakamura and Grace flee into the forest with her time machine, but it’s broken in the process.

Nakamura knows a secret cache where they can hopefully fix the time machine, but it means a perilous trek through the wilderness. Braving prehistoric dangers together shows Grace she can trust Nakamura with her life, but she’s still not sure she can ever trust him with her heart.

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VS: What was the ‘story spark’ or inspiration for the book?

ED: I have deeply loved dinosaurs and dinosaur stories ever since Jurassic Park came out when I was a kid, so that part of it has been percolating in my hindbrain forever. I actually put the initial idea for Time Traitors together more than 10 years ago when I was taking a screenwriting class and trying to come up with a “blockbuster idea.” Dinosaurs x Time Travel seemed like a winner to me. 😉

What kind of research did you have to do for this book? Any really standout surprises you found?

Part of Time Traitors set up is paleobiologists doing field work to study dinosaurs, so I actually found several field researchers who were willing to let me grill them about what it’s like. One scientist in particular was SUPER helpful talking about camera traps used in research.


How much romance is included with the science fiction and the dinosaurs?

Well, it’s basically a pair of people deeply attracted to each other running through the jungle trying not to get eaten. Think Romancing the Stone with dinosaurs; I just couldn’t figure out how to work a love scene in with all the running and screaming so this book is kisses only.

I also have a FF secondary romance between some of my supporting characters that I think is very fun.

Favorite character in the book and why

Ugh this is so hard, but I’m going to have to say my heroine Grace. She’s witty and sarcastic and brave and a dinosaur geek, but she’s also messy and loyal and trying her best. I really poured my heart into writing her. (My hero Ben is a close second. He is a fabulous, nurturing bad ass Time Agent.)

What’s your favorite dinosaur (in the book or not) and why?

And I thought the last one was hard! Troodon’s are my sentimental favorite because I always loved them as a kid. Now I have to say carnotaurus because the main dinosaur “star” of Time Traitors is a female carnotaurus.

First SFR or scifi novel you ever read?

I think the first SF novel I ever read was actually Jurassic Park. My best friend and I were racing each other to see who could finish it first, and we’d reread the gory parts and go “ewwww” with each other.

What’s next for you?

More in the Time Traitors series! I’m working on a short story that covers the hero’s POV

What’s on your TBR List? 

*Even Though I Knew the End by CL Polk. I loved Midnight Bargain so I’m excited to read this Sapphic noir. And the cover is gorgeous.

*Falling for His Fake Girlfriend (Sutton’s Place Book 4) by Shannon Stacey, I have devoured this whole series and I can’t wait to read book 4.

*One Day, One Night: Portraits of the South Pole by John Bird & Jennifer McCallum, this is a dual memoir of one married couple’s time living at the South Pole. I might have a sequel planned with dinosaurs in the snow…stay tuned…

Where can readers find you (social media links)

They can find me pretty much everywhere, but my TikTok is very active.







As I stand beside the fence, a pressure starts building in my head like it’s slowly being squashed, and I rub my temples trying to release some of the tension. …

Gradually, I realize this whole sneaking out thing looks incriminating as hell. Our first night and I’m out for a walk in the almost dark, sneaking past my time agent guards? Nothing suspicious about that, nope. Not at all.

I wet my lips. “Would you like to come out with me, Agent Nakamura? There’s still time before sunset.”

He pauses and blinks at me. Maybe he’d prepped himself for some kind of denials or defenses. But I can’t fight the raw need inside anymore to get out of this fence, and I’ll tolerate his presence if it will get me on the other side.

He leans his hand against the fence, close enough to mine I can feel the heat off his skin even though we don’t actually touch. “Is it safe to go outside this late in the day, Doc?”

“A quick trip. Sure.”

Nakamura sways on his feet a minute, a posture of deciding, thinking. His hand falls on the firearm at his side in an unconscious fidget. His gun is some futuristic-looking thing with a wide muzzle. If that contraption throws bullets, I hope I’m never standing in front of one. “What the hell,” he says at last. “Give me the grand tour, Doc.”


We pass a few cameras, but they’re hard to spot in the dark, and some of them are too high to reach without a ladder anyway. After collecting only two SD cards, my shoulders sag in defeat. “I guess this will have to wait for morning.” I recognize a familiar trail marker on one of the trees and do a slow spin to orient myself. “But there’s something pretty cool nearby. If you’re interested?” If the trails and patterns of the animals haven’t changed.

Nakamura shrugs. “Sure. I’m just here to sightsee anyway.”

“All right.”

It’s funny, but I don’t realize I’ve done something dangerous until the research station disappears behind us on the path. Maybe there’s an implicit trust because he’s a time agent, but it only occurs to me I’m out in the forest alone with a strange man after we’ve already passed out of calling distance of the station.

Of course, he’s out walking the trail with someone he suspects of being a criminal. So maybe we’re both idiots.

This research station is in a different location than our old home base, but the territory is still familiar. I’ve walked this terrain for miles and miles in every direction for years on end. Sometimes I suspect the lay of the land’s been ground into my bones.

But I still use the trail markers and the setting sun to navigate instead of trusting my gut. I might take strange men alone into the forest with me and earn my living by studying giant murderbirds, but I’m not stupid stupid.

Nakamura puffs beside me as we clamber through the underbrush, squelching in mud. “You do have a destination in mind, Doc? Or are you looking for somewhere convenient to dump my body?”

I snort. Great minds, I guess? “Shh. There won’t be anything to see if you talk too loud.”

I’m hoping I haven’t made a big promise for nothing, but slowly I start to hear noises over the sound of our thrashing progress. Low hoots and calls, rumbles of sound. Nakamura tenses beside me and gives me a wide-eyed, uncertain look. But he follows me just the same as I creep forward.

We’re on a hill overlooking the local watering hole, and a family of sauropods are taking their turn. “These are Alamosaurus,” I murmur.


I laugh. “Yup. Their name means ‘Old Alamo lizard’. They were originally discovered in Texas.” They’re huge sauropods, nearly a hundred feet tall as adults, and their backs are covered with a bony plate armor.

“I can’t… the size of them…” Nakamura can only shake his head in wonder.


They move with a lazy, easy grace, long necks swaying as they eat and call to each other. Maybe it’s because I’ve been gone so long, but the sight of these stunning creatures hits me hard, and I sniff juicily. It doesn’t work to stop the flow, though, and soon enough, tears are tickling over my cheeks, wet and cold. Embarrassment heats my face, and I avoid Nakamura’s eyes. “I hope I don’t cry every time I see a dinosaur. Makes my job harder.”

“It’s okay, Doc.” He says it slow, gentle. No judgment. No mockery.

“Thank you.” My voice creaks but it doesn’t break. Small mercies.

“Now stop talking. I came to see some dinosaurs.” He settles into a squat on the hill and watches them, his eyes bright, and oh help me, but that makes me like him.

The light shines gold off the water, and the long necks of the sauropods sway like dancers in some intricate choreography, smooth and immense. My cheeks ache because I’ve been grinning this whole time. But even as I admire their elegance, I’m also watching the social interactions between adults, trying to determine the sex of the animals, looking for their young and how protective they are of them. It’s a welcome stream of thoughts, an old muscle flexing to life.

Nakamura’s fingers brush my sleeve, and I jump away from him, landing on my butt in the mud with a messy squelch.

His mouth crimps in a not-quite laugh. “Sorry, Doc. But the sun’s going down.”

“Oh. Right.”

He offers a hand to me, and I slide my palm into his. His skin’s warm, his fingers work roughened. I let go as soon as I’m on my feet and scrape my muddy fingers against my pants.

When I look up, I’m staring down the barrel of Nakamura’s gun. It’s pointed right at my head.

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