A debut time-travel romance that romps through more than 200 years of history.
Audra Makenna Manning, born and bred in Tennessee, is a daydreamer. She has a great fondness for the music and movies of the 1940s as well as a passion for horses; she’s also socially awkward, much to the displeasure of her well-to-do paternal grandmother in New York City. In 2008, when Makenna is 19, her parents are killed in a motorcycle accident, and she decides to live with her nearby maternal grandfather, nicknamed “Pa,” whom she adores. On a horse farm, she gets a job tending horses and masters the art of trick riding. One evening, the son of the horse farm’s owner accosts her, so she escapes on her favorite steed, Quasar, and heads out into a storm. A spectacular flash of lightning stuns her senses, and she and her horse find themselves in a strange place: the year 1772. It seems that in the woods near Nashville, not far from Pa’s home, there’s a portal that allows travel through time. As Makenna tries to get her bearings, she meets Gabriel Christian, who warns her that a nearby band of Chickamauga warriors could be dangerous. Gabriel, an Englishman who moved to the American Colonies, is traveling with some partners, all intent upon staking land claims. Lost and befuddled, Makenna agrees to ride with them, hoping to find her way back home. The relationship that Taylor develops between Makenna and Gabriel is funny, sweet, and often cantankerous, although it takes a couple more time jumps before the possibility of romance develops. The time-travel plot construct also presents a fertile field for humorous miscommunication; when Makenna asks for a phone, for example, Gabriel says, “I am unfamiliar with that weaponry.” Taylor also makes great use of the cultural dissonance between a feisty 21st-century woman and a proper 18th-century gentleman. One leap brings the pair to 1863, and the author viscerally portrays the magnitude of suffering in the rural South during the Civil War. The surprise ending is pleasant, although it will require readers to willingly suspend their disbelief.
An often delightful fantasy that will stick with readers long after they turn the last page.