Alicia James and her two sisters are singing in a graveyard to honor a recently deceased woman (who was believed to be a witch) when they are separated by an extremely thick fog. While making her way through the fog, Alicia realizes that she isn’t in the Wyoming cemetery anymore, and this is confirmed when a large and very attractive man appears out of nowhere in the trees. He tells her she is on his land, but if she is looking for Sitka (yes, Sitka Alaska), she must go the other way. Alicia, frightened, but managing to think clearly, ends up in Sitka. It is not modern day Sitka, however.
This isn’t the most scientific time travel explanation I’ve ever run across, and I feel almost guilty for liking this book since much of it is implausible, and well, light and fluffy, but there you have it. It still worked fairly well for me.
Alicia can definitely think quickly on her feet. She manages to trade her modern clothes, cell phone, and lipstick, etc. for money and more appropriate clothing. She even finds a job opportunity. She tries not to dwell too much on what has happened, and how she came to end up in Alaska, except to remember a prophecy given to her by the same woman she sang for in the graveyard. The prophecy stated that the river of time does not flow in a straight line but twists backwards sometimes, but she can’t remember much else about it. She is more concerned about her sisters, since she has no idea what has happened to them.
Her job opportunity is with Caleb Marker, coincidentally the man she met in the forest. He needs a tutor/governess for his five-year-old daughter, Mariah. Alicia gets the job, even though she is a botanist, not a teacher. Like I said, she’s a quick thinker. Caleb finds her odd, but chalks it up to her Wyoming upbringing, where women actually had the right to vote.
Yes, the plot devices are unbelievable in this one, but it’s still a fun read; you might call it a guilty pleasure. Caleb and Alicia have a strong attraction to each other, but Alicia holds back due to her unusual circumstances and a bad experience with a failed marriage. The attraction between Caleb and Alicia fairly sets fire to the pages. However, for an experienced, modern day heroine, Alicia has a wide-eyed, virginal attitude about sex and men.
One of the great aspects about this book was the fact that Alicia and Caleb do talk about their attraction to each other, they don’t just jump in bed together. Alicia fits into Caleb’s isolated lifestyle easily, since she grew up on a ranch in Wyoming, and is accustomed to country living. Caleb is a logger, and not the most open-minded man, but he actually does listen to Alicia, after some debate between them. He also loves to read. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if some of the knowledge he talked about gaining from books was actually available in 1895, like books on rearing children without corporal punishment, or the psychology books that he consults when Alicia reveals her secret.
Caleb’s daughter, Mariah, was delightful, which was a problem. No child is that good. She never whined, complained, had a tantrum, or even disagreed with anyone. Her halo remained firmly intact throughout the book. Alicia also adjusted quite easily to losing her sisters, even though throughout the story she keeps mentioning how close they are to each other. She worries about them, but never shows any true depth of feeling over their loss, or the fact that she will never see them again. Had it been my brother, I would have been verging on hysteria much of the time.
This is a book with many obvious problems – it never seems to scratch under the surface of things, the characters are unrealistic, and the plot unbelievable. But once in a while, don’t you just have to eat that whipped cream off the top of something while looking around guiltily to see if anyone noticed? That’s what I felt like as I read this book. It’s not a great book, but it did managed to keep me quite entertained for a few hours.