The Space Machine, by Christopher Priest

Second paragraph of third chapter:

As I should have known it would, though, the next move came from Amelia, for waiting for me on the Saturday evening was a letter postmarked in Richmond.

I was given this by the author back in 2016, with an entertainingly ambiguous inscription:

Chris Priest autograph

I guess that the love story which is not between the characters is an old one between the author and H.G. Wells. It’s a very entertaining mash-up of The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. Our protagonist is a goggles salesman, who hooks up with the lovely Amelia (who is way better than he is; we can see this, though he does not know it); they are transported to Mars, where she undermines the structures of government by bringing them revolution; and return to Earth where they encounter H.G. Wells in the flesh. Witty and well-executed. You can get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired in 2016. Next on that list is Chaos and Amber, by John Betancourt, of which I have lower expectations.