In the Shadow of the Moon
Laura Truitt and her husband Jack are out house hunting in Roswell, Georgia when Laura feels inexplicably drawn to an old plantation. Upon meeting the home’s owner, the situation becomes strange; the old woman has a picture of a person that looks exactly like Laura, except that the picture was taken in the 1800’s! Laura and Jack buy the home and prepare to settle down and raise their daughter, Annie. Laura has always had an affinity for astronomy, and one night while they are watching a comet on Moon Mountain, Annie disappears right under their noses. Laura’s life begins to unravel and a few years later, sick at heart, having lost everyone that was important in her life, Laura finds herself on Moon Mountain again, watching the sky and hoping to be reunited with Annie.
Laura passes out and when she awakens, nothing on Moon Mountain appears familiar. She is extremely disoriented and slightly ill. Stuart Elliott finds a very confused Laura, and takes her to Phoenix Hall, the name of the house she owns in the present. Laura quickly realizes that she is not in her own time but Civil War-torn Georgia. Julia Elliott, Stuart’s sister-in-law, takes Laura in and believes her story that she is searching for her lost daughter. Stuart remains suspicious, as Laura cannot adequately explain where she came from, but Julia and Laura become friends. It helps that Laura is willing to help out around the plantation, since Julia is preparing to have her third child, and her husband William is gone.
The Elliott family is deeply divided by the Civil War. Stuart is an officer with the Southern army, home on leave due to an injury. Julia’s husband, William basically deserted the family to join the Yankees. Laura, while she likes Julia and is drawn to Stuart, does not want to stick around for Sherman’s march through Georgia which she knows will happen soon. Laura believes that since she traveled to this time period, Annie must be close by. Laura is determined to discover what happened to her daughter.
Stuart’s shaman grandfather, Zeke Proudfoot, recognizes that Laura is a traveler, and a Shadow Warrior to boot, and dispenses some cryptic advice to her. It seems there are some time travelers who are out to do harm, and it is up to the Shadow Warriors to stop them. Laura doesn’t really care about that, and continues to focus on finding her daughter, even though she believes that she may be falling in love with Stuart.
Laura does meet up with an evil traveler, which is one of those only-in-a-romance-novel coincidences. By this time, she has located her daughter and determined that she loves Stuart, but is not willing to stay with him, or tell him the truth. The situation comes to a head quickly against the backdrop of Sherman’s march through Georgia and the imminent danger to Phoenix Hall. Laura is coerced into becoming involved in a heinous plot that could change the outcome of the war, giving the South a victory. Poor Stuart continues to remain in the dark.
This book started out well, and the author has a unique voice. Her description of the times and the sharp division among Civil War families is especially well done. Problems started to occur in the plot when she introduces some unrealistic solutions to difficult situations, but to say more would spoil the story. My main problem was Laura’s treatment of Stuart. A more selfish heroine I’ve never met. Certainly her main goal is to find her daughter, but after she does, she doesn’t stop and consider remaining with Stuart, and she never tells him the truth. Since this is a romance, obviously there is a happy ending, but there are three years of separation for Laura and Stuart because of her actions. Frankly, Stuart was too good for Laura, and this poor man went through hell for her. Had I been Stuart, I would have told Laura to head right back to where she came from. Fans of time travel stories will find this offering rich in historical details, but I cannot whole heartedly recommend it because of the heroine’s actions.