A 21st-century physician finds herself in 1763 in this prequel.
Lily Van Der Houghton feels lost. She’s just been dumped by her longtime boyfriend, and she can’t make a choice of a medical specialty, torn between emergency medicine and obstetrics/gynecology. So she decides to hike Georgia’s Jacks River Falls, where she got hopelessly lost at 10 years old—maybe this time she’ll find her way. Instead, when she encounters a Cherokee named Shadow Wolf and his white wife, Ginny, she learns she’s slipped more than two centuries back in time in order to fulfill a prophecy. Ginny and Wolf are destined to have a daughter, “the Bright Star of Hope,” who will save the Cherokee from their tragic future, and Lily’s role is to deliver that child and bear a son of her own, “the Red Wolf,” the Star’s protector. Sure enough, Lily falls in love with Ginny’s adopted brother, Irishman Marcus McCarron, and conceives a child. But their road is a rocky one, strewn with misunderstandings, family secrets, and pain. Can this modern woman learn to live in a time long past? Has she at last found where she belongs? Middleton’s (Beyond McCarron’s Corner: Sassy’s Story, 2018) first novel was set during the American Revolution. This prequel deftly focuses on a little-spotlighted time period, bringing to life the food, fashions, and even the medical treatments of long ago. But it’s odd how quickly Lily makes the decision to stay in the 1700s, marrying Marcus in the first 50 pages; even if she’s estranged from her mother, doesn’t she have friends? Co-workers? Someone in the future who wonders where she’s gone? And the author’s careful attention to historical detail can’t overcome how she handles race, particularly in treating Marcus’ past as an “Irish slave.” She repeats myths about African slaves being more valuable than Irish ones and dwells on Marcus’ trauma rather than that of the black slaves his adopted family owns.
A tale with an intriguing historical setting and time-travel premise marred by a few missteps.