The Ballad of Jack O'Dair
I liked that this story was set in a unique place: Alaska during the Klondike gold rush near the end of the 19th century. The premise was intriguing, too: a balladeer is transported back in time to find out the end of a folk song that boasted a larger-than-life hero. Beyond that, however, the story of Jessie Jerome and Jack O’Dair was pretty average.
Jessie Jerome is half in love with the hero of a ballad from a hundred years ago. When she goes to Alaska searching for the lost lyrics that speak of Jack’s fate, she meets a very old man who says he knows the answer. He takes her to Jack O’Dair’s abandoned cabin – and leaves her there. When an angry and confused Jessie awakens the next morning, time has rolled back a hundred years, and Jack O’Dair in the flesh walks through the door demanding to know what she’s doing in his cabin.
After the obligatory acceptance that what couldn’t possibly happen has actually happened, and Jessie is truly back in 1898 Alaska, she sets about to find out what she came for. Jack is a huge man with flaming red hair and piercing green eyes, and a hero through and through. He’s the law ’round these parts, and Jessie plans to stick close to him to see how what she knows of the ballad fits with how he got his heroic reputation. And discover who, while she’s at it, was the song’s composer.
Jessie and Jack are attracted to each other, but Jessie doesn’t know how long she’s got before she’s transported back to her own time, and Jack has demons that keep him from wanting to make a commitment to any woman. Pretty predictable, wouldn’t you say?
There are some okay secondary characters and some things happen to move the story along, but overall, nothing terribly compelling happens. All the mysteries are solved and everything is tied up neatly at the end. The ballad itself is included, but I could never figure out its rhythm, which it should have had if it really was supposed to be a song. Being a time travel romance, of course, Jessie is able to help Jack in his lawman stuff by employing methods she’s seen on TV.
What always bothers me in time-travels bothered me here: The person transported never has any idea of what happened at that place in that time. Didn’t these people pay attention in History 101? Didn’t the author want to do any research? The history of Alaska and the Klondike gold rush are fascinating topics, but you won’t find anything other that cold temperatures and lots of snow in this surface-level historical.
At any rate, if you love time travels and are looking for a different locale, this might work for you. As for me, The Ballad of Jack O’Dair just didn’t strike a chord.