I've been on the lookout recently for some more established historical authors to sink my teeth into and came across Constance O'Day-Flannery. She's best known for her time travel romances, so being a newbie to this type of historical, I thought I'd give her a shot.
The book begins with Kelly Brennan as she's donning a hideous bridesmaid's dress at an, at best, acquaintance's wedding in Louisiana. The wedding ends and Kelly is meandering around the estate when she comes to a tree in the woods that seems to call out to her. Making up her mind to not be afraid, Kelly touches the tree and is transported back to post-Civil War times. She is met immediately by a precocious little girl named Lizzie Gilmore, who believes her to be a fairy, and ends up taking her home. When Kelly meets Lizzie's father, she is unprepared for the physical similarities between Daniel Gilmore and her late husband, Michael. We find out later that Daniel is similarly shocked by Kelly's resemblance to his late wife, Lillian. Daniel is a lonely man who has shut off his heart to those around him following his wife's passing from Yellow Fever a number of years earlier. Kelly ends up with few options but to stay with Daniel, Lizzie, and their maid, Mammy Clara, as she is unable to return to her time.
This story was interesting and I loved the time travel element of the book. Daniel seemed quite a progressive hero, too, and it was interesting to see his reactions to Kelly's description of things in the future. Concepts like cars, telephones, computers, and rockets all came up in the course of the book. This may be a spoiler so I'll hide it: basically I spent the whole book waiting for Kelly to either be forced forward in time or to have to make some sort of choice about staying in this time period. That seems to be the general conflict in other time travel books I've read. This book's conflict ended up being something else entirely, which I won't mention. I was a little confused on that point by the time I finished the book, but the writing was so good that I had a hard time putting the book down. I spent the whole time reading basically waiting for the other shoe to drop, so I was a little disappointed when what I expected didn't really happen. [end possible spoiler]
Overall, the book was very well written, the characters were interesting, and I enjoyed the time travel aspect. I think I would have liked to see more of what Kelly actually did as a suffragette, rather than only finding out bits and pieces when she was initially meeting people in New Orleans. That part of the story interested me and I would have liked to see more of the reaction of others to her progressive ways. I also would have liked more with Lizzie's character, especially at the end of the book, because I thought that part of the story tied things together more than the actual time travel did. I wasn't a big fan of both Kelly and Daniel looking like the other's former spouse, but I was willing to overlook that in light of a well-told story. Despite my criticisms, I did enjoy this book and this is an author I'll check out again in the future.
Note from Brie: this book is currently out of print but you can get the e-book edition in all the different retailers.
Review by Guest Reviewer
Kelly Brennan, a beautiful young widow, arrives at the door wearing a horrible lime green silk and organza bridesmaid’s dress. She seems confused and talks about strange devices like “telephones” and “cabs”--things that don’t yet exist in this post-Civil War New Orleans.
You see, Kelly has traveled backward through time to an era of gentile southern manners and a calm pace of life she had only dreamed of in her modern, hectic world. Adding to Kelly’s confusion is the uncanny resemblance of her charming gentleman host, Daniel Gilmore, to her late husband Michael.
Is this all a dream? Are Daniel and his precocious daughter Lizzie real? As Kelly begins to adjust to life in the past, she faces an even greater challenge--opening her heart to a man who himself has known great loss and sadness. Can Kelly and Daniel find love not in the past nor in the future, but in this jumbled present?
In TIME AFTER TIME, Constance O’Day-Flannery, the original “Queen of Time Travel Romance,” proves that true love can never be lost. It simply waits to be found in another time, at the perfect time.
Time After Time by Constance O’Day-Flannery
Avon. March 6, 2001