As time travels go, this one gets high marks for creating a heroine very unlike those found in typical examples of the genre. More than anything Sarah Martin wants to go home. She cries to go home. She begs to go home. She makes deals with God to go home. It's refreshing. If only the author had given the character something to do other than wish she was home, things would have been a lot more interesting.
Too many time travels feature characters who blithely accept their cosmic predicament as easily as they would a traffic ticket. Oh, Toto, I'm not in Kansas anymore. Whatever shall I do? Look at the cute butt on that farmer/cowboy/royal highness. It's much more believable that a modern woman with completely modern sensibilities would freak at being tossed back to a time where people think the only thing a woman is good for is making babies or helping gentlemen relieve their, er, anxieties.
Nope. Sarah Martin does not go quietly into yesterday's goodnight. Even though her life in current day Los Angeles is a bit of a mess, she'd rather face the devil she knows that the one she doesn't. She arrives in Moose Creek, Wyoming, because it's the safest place she can think of to get away from the stalker who has been making her life miserable. Who would ever think to look for her in the town her great-grandmother helped settle? When she is somehow transported to 1870, Sarah can think of nothing more than getting home.
But there are problems. Her great-grandmother Rachel has been kidnapped. But according to Rachel's diary, which Sarah read before she leaps across time, the kidnapping never took place. What's more, one of the local ranchers, handsome Josh Campbell, thinks she is Rachel's friend – come all the way to Moose Creek to marry him.
Sarah is stunned when she sees Josh. Why does he look so much like the guy she danced with in a club just a few nights before? Why is history rewriting itself? And more importantly, why was she thrown almost 130 years into the past? She has plenty of time to contemplate her questions, because once the ordeal of rescuing her great-grandmother is solved, Sarah basically does nothing but sit around for the rest of the book. Josh offers marriage time and again and Sarah continually refuses him without explaining why. Who would believe her? She keeps visiting the church where she first came-to in the past, hoping to find some sort of portal home. After a time, Josh keeps her a virtual prisoner on his ranch, afraid that she will run into trouble and desperate to keep her safe. He loves her, but doesn't understand why she won't marry him.
Sarah's resolve is logical – but boring. Josh can't marry her…because. That's her standard answer. Because. She's completely out of her element on the ranch, unable to cook or do much of anything. She's just grateful Josh has indoor plumbing. She keeps his books for him, but that's about it. Yes, she and Josh grow ever closer but she is unwilling to give up her hope that she will one day return to her former life.
It makes for an uneven story that is bookended by some good action but crawls to a standstill during the middle pages. Yes, it does give the author some room for the romance between Josh and Sarah to build slowly. But it is so slow that a year passes before anything is resolved.
What's more, the relationship between Josh and Sarah often reads as if it has developed out of necessity rather than affection. By the end of the tale the two are deeply in love, but that turnaround somehow rings false. Sarah is attracted to Josh, and obviously wouldn't have a problem getting to know him outside the bonds of matrimony. It's a somewhat cavalier attitude that mirrors Sarah's actions preceeding her time travel. The fact that she just expects her stalker to "get tired of her" and move on is simply ridiculous, especially considering he's tried to kill her once already.
Despite these issues, however, I feel compelled to give author Janet Quinn a high five for injecting a much needed dose of reality into a scenario that too often slides off the saccharine scale into the mini-marshmallows.