Sixpence Bride


A Blast To The Past
by Virginia Farmer
(Love Spell, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-505-52572-0
A Blast To The Past is a time-travel romance involving Brian Skelley, a Navy bomb expert on a training mission in the Scottish Highlands in the present year. Skelley and his men are working with dummy bombs in an open field when someone comes across a bomb that wasn’t supposed to be involved in the day’s mission. Instead of ignoring what was assumed to be a left-over from a previous training mission, Lawrence (one of Skelley’s men) decides to pick it up and remove it. In doing so, the bomb explodes…

The next thing Skelley knows he’s waking up in a strange stone room. He’s been “blown” back to the year 1301. At first he thinks he was rescued by someone from one of those “period” museum villages. After a few really confusing conversations with the locals and a good look around at the countryside, Skelley realizes that the blast transported him back in time.

Skelley meets Caira Mackenzie, the Laird of Castle Kilbeinn, where he was taken when he was found. Her father and husband have both died and she is trying to keep their deaths a secret so the English won’t know a woman is in charge. Scotland is fighting with England and Caira’s father made a neutrality agreement with the King. If the Mackenzie Clan agrees to stay neutral and not fight against the English, the English promise not to invade their property. But, Caira is afraid that if the English found out the Clan was without a male laird, the King may force her to marry an Englishman. The situation is even worse as most of the men of the Clan, except those too young or too old, left to fight for Scotland in the war against England because they felt it was not honorable to “hide” behind a neutrality agreement.

Skelley is not interested in the problems of the Mackenzie Clan. He simply wants to try to recreate the explosion that sent him back in time, hoping he’ll be able to “blast” himself back to the year 2004. The only problem is…gunpowder is not yet used in Scotland. Fortunately, he and a friend accidentally found out how to make black powder in a high school chemistry class. Skelley works hard to make the raw ingredients and tries to keep himself detached from the happenings of the Clan and from Caira, who he is attracted to. Eventually Skelley realizes that his black powder could help defend the Clan from the English and he can’t resist the urge to help them out. In the process he finds it difficult to maintain his distance.

The fact that Caira’s father and husband are both dead and she is the Laird of Castle Kilbeinn is a secret, as mentioned earlier. But, it was also supposed to be a small mystery of the story that was hinted to on page 23. I didn’t pick up on this very subtle hint. It wasn’t until page 80 that I realized there was a secret, but by page 100 the secret was revealed. The manner of death for both Caira’s father and husband were supposed to be mysteries as well, but it was like “So what?” by the time these two mysteries unfolded. The reader will probably find herself not caring about these characters enough to even bother wanting to know why they died. It didn’t seem relevant to the story.

The romance between Caira and Skelley is sweet and titillating. Because Scotland was warring with England to obtain their independence, there was a bit of light action that was appealing. It was interesting when William Wallace entered the story and Skelley made reference to Mel Gibson’s role as William Wallace in “Braveheart.” It was not hard to remember that Skelley was a contemporary character trying to fit into a very ancient time period. Nothing hilarious, but definitely a witty tone throughout.

Overall, A Blast To The Past is a very enjoyable read. This book “hit the spot” for me. The characters are memorable and the romance was satisfying. The epilogue brought the story full circle and was a near perfect ending.

--Tracy Merritt

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