Anywhere You Are
by Constance O'Day-Flannery
(Avon, $6.50, PG) ISBN 0-380-80169-8
****
The modern master of time travel romance returns to familiar ground in this highly enjoyable cross-time, cross-culture tale.

The action starts when thirtysomething divorcee Mairie Callahan jumps out of a plane in an effort to help fulfill the dreams of her beloved brother Bryan, stricken with cancer and determined to live life to the fullest while he can. The scene is particularly vivid, depicting the sheer terror turned breathtaking awe of skydiving that could only have come from real experience. The author does mention that the premise of the book is based on her own experience skydiving.

When Mairie lands in the middle of the Nevada desert, she is quick to realize that none of the skydiving personnel are in sight. There is no giant 'X' to mark the spot; no emergency vehicles in case of accident; no teacher; no brother; and no congratulatory glass of champagne. What the heck is going on? Alone and at the point of panic, she wisely stays put until help shows up in the form of Jack Delaney.

The adoptive son of a Paiute Indian tribe, Jack has been on a vision quest in the mountains when he sees an 'angel' descend from the sky. He rushes towards his 'gift' and over the course of the next few hours is disappointed and disgusted to discover that this angel is, in his opinion, a mad woman in her underwear.

For her part, Mairie obstinately demands to be taken to a phone or a fax or Las Vegas or given some sort of way of communicating with her brother. No go. What is this fax? What is Las Vegas other than a remote ranch in the middle of nowhere?

Begrudgingly dragging his gift out of the desert to safety, Jack arrives at the remote Paiute camp he now calls home. His 'brothers' are fascinated by Mairie's appearance, and though she is initially appalled by what she sees as the tribe's poverty, her eyes begin to open towards a larger view of the world, thanks to her interaction with the Tribe.

During her brief stay with the Paiute, Mairie gains a bit of what Jack calls 'balance' and begins to accept the fact that she may have dropped out of the sky into the year 1877.

It's a tough pill to swallow, but with the relationship between Mairie and Jack developing serious romantic undertones, Mairie is ready to accept her fate. But no sooner does she start wondering what to do with her life than the future rears its head in the form of a US Navy Seal sent by the government to fetch Mairie back from the past.

Now, I don't want to give away any more of the plot, but suffice it to say that Marie and Jack are in for a number of adventures. The relationship that builds between the two becomes stronger with each passing day, despite the 120 plus year age difference. It moves from one of begrudging responsibility and dependence to a true partnership…something Mairie never had in her marriage.

The author delves deep into the motivators behind the growth and the effect it has on both the characters. Mairie's eagerness to leave the past behind sometimes takes a backseat to Jack's deep-seated need to put to rest the ghosts that have haunted him since Gettysburg. But she also becomes a healing force in his life; the "gift" he prayed would set his life back on the proper course. It's just that fate is the one determining which course it is the two will set sail on.

What Anywhere You Are lacks in heavy breathing (and it is fairly light on the spice content) it makes up for in maturity. The author's depiction of Mairie's relationship with her brother is beautifully drawn, and, from an emotional standpoint and for the genre, is unusual in its in-depth, realistic presentation.

Constance O'Day-Flannery consistently provides readers with likeable, funny, real-life people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. With Anywhere You Are she continues that tradition and doesn't let her legions of fans down.

--Ann McGuire


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