A Slip in Time by Kathleen Kirkwood
(Topaz, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-451-40759-8
****
A Slip in Time is definitely worth your time; this is a first-rate tale of time travel and historical romance. The book's intriguing premise, slipping through time, grabbed my interest from the first chapter. In addition, the story line is rich with historical detail and there's a well-crafted suspense subplot concerning the hero's family.

The year is 1893 and, since the death of her parents a year ago, Julia Hargrove has been feeling lost and lonely. Forced to accept the company of her aunts and cousins, who do not hide their dislike of Julia, she keeps to herself as much as possible. When they travel to Scotland to spend the summer at Dunraven Castle, Julia is housed away from her cousins. She is given a room in oldest part of the Castle; the tower room, also referred to as the "ancient heart of Dunraven."

Wet and tired from her travels, Julia is grateful for a warm bed and she readily dismisses the servants' talk about the "hidden secrets of Dunraven." She has second thoughts about those secrets when her much desired sleep is rudely interrupted by a huge, naked man who pulls Julia from her bed and deposits her outside the door of the bedchamber.

Julia has third thoughts about those secrets when, after returning to her bedchamber to confront the stranger, she discovers he's disappeared and the room's furnishings have changed. The next day, Julia is certain that she dreamed the entire incident. Yet she can't explain to herself how she could have conjured all the details of her dream, especially the naked man!

Still, the next night she's not surprised to find the huge and hostile man in her room, once again. When he questions her as to her identity, Julia introduces herself and explains that she's a guest of the Twenty-seventh laird of Dunraven Castle, Lord Muir. The large man asks her how she can be a guest of the Twenty-seventh laird when HE is the Third laird of Dunraven Castle, Rae Mackinnon, and the year is 1437?

When Julia awakens to find herself back in her own time, she's sure, despite the very real kiss he gave her, that Rae Mackinnon is a ghost. Believing her room to be haunted, she's determined to leave Dunraven. But kindly old Lord Muir, assures Julia that Rae is no ghost and that what she experienced is a rare phenomenon referred to as a "slip in time."

Lord Muir explains that a slip in time is like a window opening between two times. Those on both sides can observe each other and sometimes interact, but no one feels like they have left their own time. He also explains that the window does not stay open for long. Lord Muir is a scholarly, scientific man who once experienced the slip in time himself; he begs Julia to stay so that they can investigate the phenomenon.

Julia stays at Dunraven and continues to "slip" into Rae's life. She discovers that Rae is a man she can respect and admire. Rae, too, discovers that Julia is someone he can admire and believe in. The slip in time could be minutes or hours but always Julia returns to her own time. Aware that each second together could be their last, Rae and Julia cherish each and every moment.

A Slip in Time is a wonderfully romantic story. I felt Julia and Rae's joy in each other, their determination to make every minute count, and their fear that the time-slips will stop leaving each of them alone in their own century.

Kathleen Kirkwood (who is Anita Gordon) is certainly an ambitious author, in her story she provides lavish historical detail for not one, but two different centuries: 19th-century Scotland and 15th-century Scotland. The language, food, clothing and customs of both time periods are intricately and masterfully weaved into this tale, providing taste and texture.

Besides the intriguing premise of slipping through time, this book contains some fine suspense concerning the history of Clan MacKinnon. There are lots of subtle twists and turns in the story line. I was never quite sure how it would end, and I enjoyed this fine story all the more because of the element of uncertainty.

--Judith Flavell



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