A Matter of Time by Terri Brisbin
(Jove, $ 5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-515-12683-7
***
A Matter of Time is the sequel to Terri Brisbin's first time travel, A Love Through Time. Although I was worried that I'd had my fill of time travel novels recently, Brisbin's logical approach to such an illogical subject made it an intriguing read.

Douglas MacKendimen is a Chicago physician and the epitome of a successful, modern American man. Even if his otherwise rational parents (Maggie and Alex MacKendimen from A Love Through Time) did insist on filling his childhood with unbelievable tales of travels in medieval Scotland.

While visiting a Scottish estate for a family reunion, Douglas hears the tortured screams of a woman. He rushes to her aid, passing through a deteriorating stone archway -- the same stone archway that, unbeknownst to Douglas, sent his own parents back in time.

Following the sounds of the woman's cries, he finds her being attacked by what appears to be a trio of rather authentically clad actors, probably at the estate to perform a medieval reenactment. While attempting her rescue, Douglas is smashed over the head and loses consciousness. But not before realizing the woman he has rescued is the same woman who has haunted his dreams for the past three years.

That woman is Caitlin MacInnis, the daughter of Pol and Mairi MacInnis, who both figured prominently in A Love Through Time. Douglas has appeared in Caitlin's dreams, as well. Mysterious, erotic dreams. When Douglas regains consciousness, he finds himself in the care of Caitlin's family, in the year 1370.

Douglas has always known that if he should find the woman who haunts his dreams, she would alter his life. But he never imagined a situation like this. Have the fates decided that Douglas (who was conceived in the past) belonged in the past? Or is there another reason entirely for Douglas' travel through time?

Part of the fun of a time travel is to tag along with the characters as they learn to adjust to a life without all the modern conveniences. But Douglas seems to slip rather effortlessly into his new existence and except for occasionally missing a hot shower or a comfortable mattress, he blends right in.

Douglas' character evolves as he slowly awakens to the fact that although he is a well respected physician in his own time, without the tools and technology he has grown to depend on, he is quite hopeless as a doctor in the 14th century. Since Caitlin is a healer, Douglas follows her as she treats patients in the village. In assisting Caitlin, Douglas is able to recapture the true reason he became a physician, beyond the financial rewards.

While Douglas matures over the course of the story, Caitlin is a bit more problematic. She is one of the most virtuous characters I've ever come across. Certainly you want a heroine to be a good, kind person. But in every respect, Caitlin was too perfect to be true. All of her sweetness made my teeth ache. One screaming tantrum would have done this woman (and this reader) a world of good.

A Matter of Time is a sequel that leans heavily on its predecessor. There are numerous threads that tie the two together. I kept a copy of A Love Through Time at my side as I read this book, and referred to it several times. This is an excellent example of books that should be read in order.

If you enjoyed A Love Through Time, I don't think you'll be disappointed in its sequel, although it is a quieter, more introspective story. In addition, there are a few teasers that allude to an additional book in this series. Hinting that just one final person will be able to travel through the stone arches, and it's possible that person might be the daughter of Douglas and Caitlin. I'm intrigued enough to give the next book a try.

--Karen Lynch


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