Heaven on Earth
Heaven on Earth is an antidote for people who are tired of reading romances full of distrust, arguments, smarmy villains, and the like. However, perhaps because of the lack of those elements, it drags at times. I’m usually glad to read a romance where the hero and heroine are able to talk, but sometimes it’s possible for them to talk too much.
Bored with her life, Casey O’Reilly journeys to Santa Fe to visit her sister. She ends up traveling back in time, accompanied by the enigmatic yet kind Luke d’Seraphin, another time traveler. At first, Casey refuses to accept that she is in the past, but eventually she comes to accept what has happened and enjoys her stay at the home of Luke’s wealthy friend, Don Felipe.
Luke is accustomed to time travel, and he helps Casey cope with her new reality. She fits in well, for the most part, making friends with Don Felipe’s daughter, Rosalinda. Over time, she and Luke must decide why Casey traveled back in time.
Casey has a steady but boring job, and she hears her biological clock ticking away. She is friendly and likable, though at times stubborn – it took her too long to accept that she had traveled back in time. Once she admits there can be no other explanation for what has happened, Casey enjoys the adventure.
The sexual tension between Casey and Luke warms up the story, particularly during the flamenco scene. When she realizes she is attracted to Luke, Casey is no longer the confused time traveler: she is ready to accept her destiny. Ironically, it is Luke who is reluctant to act on his feelings. What kind of relationship can Casey expect from a time traveler? He doesn’t realize that Casey is his destiny.
The secondary characters are … nice, friendly people. How often can you say that about a romance? While not everyone is perfect, this is a book without villains. Perhaps in a book with such a pleasant tone, villains would be out of place. However, readers expecting shoot-outs, chase scenes, and duels with evil rivals will be disappointed. Also, readers who don’t like “New Age” thinking will want to avoid this novel. The philosophical discussions will get on your nerves. While I was glad Casey and Luke didn’t argue about silly misunderstandings, this novel moved very slowly when they started discussing Casey’s destiny and her unusual (yet vague) powers.
I’ve never been to Santa Fe, but I’m sure Heaven on Earth does a good job of recreating the Santa Fe of the past. The famous staircase in the Loretto Chapel even makes an appearance. In addition, O’Day-Flannery presents a charming portrayal of a wealthy Spanish-American family that avoids the usual stereotypes. The friendly atmosphere at Don Felipe’s home adds to both the setting and the story.
This novel was pleasant. Perhaps it was too pleasant. While I was glad Casey and Luke didn’t argue about silly misunderstandings, I thought that they didn’t have enough obstacles in their path. The novel dragged when they started discussing Casey’s destiny and her powers. This part of the story would have been stronger if they had overcome problems instead of talking for long stretches of time. That said, if you’re looking for a book in which the protagonists really spend time getting to know each other, I recommend it.