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A Cry At Midnight
by Victoria Chancellor
(Love Spell, $5.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52300-0
****
A Cry at Midnight is a nicely written, thoroughly enjoyable time-travel romance. The author has a good sense of humor and a good sense of history, including a thorough knowledge of life on a Southern plantation before the Civil War. Also, the main characters are very appealing, especially the heroine, Randi Galloway.

Feisty Randi sees her job cleaning the Black Willow Grove Museum as a step toward obtaining the money she needs to get into college. Randi got sidetracked on the road of life when she fell for a man who was no good. A man who declined to offer her any kind of support when he found out she was having their baby; a man who was not there for her when she lost their baby.

Still grieving over the loss of her child, Randi is strongly affected by the story behind Black Willow Grove. Years before the Civil War, Black Willow Grove was a Southern plantation run by widower, Jackson Durant. According to history, a terrible flood destroyed the beautiful home and Jackson and his infant daughter, Rose, were never found.

While working late one night at the museum, Randi hears a baby crying; she wonders whether someone is playing a cruel trick on her. Randi starts looking for the source of the tears and the next thing she knows she's traveled back in time to the home of Jackson Durant, a month before the terrible flood.

Jackson places a great deal of importance on appearance and correct behavior; Randi's short hair and strange manners do not impress him. In fact, Randi is everything a woman of his world is not supposed to be and even though he knows he should send her on her way, he finds her fascinating. So, despite his better judgment, he allows her to take care of his beloved daughter.

Randi quickly falls in love with little Rose and, despite their differences, she finds Jackson very appealing. She can't bear the thought of either of them dying in the flood. Randi has to find a way to make Jackson, a cynical man by nature, believe her when she tells him she can foretell the future, and that his home and his life are in serious jeopardy from the fast-rising Mississippi River.

I found Randi to be a very appealing heroine. She's "spunky" in the best sense of that word: she's been through adversity and it's made her stronger. Randi is smart enough to realize that she can't always be a 90's woman while she's living in 1849, especially if she wants to gain Jackson's trust and acceptance.

Then again, she can't hide her abhorrence of slavery; and she can't keep silent over what she regards as proper care for a baby girl. Randi's open and honest approach to life is the complete antithesis of Jackson's closed nature. Jackson has shut the door to his past, and to anything that might make him appear different from other wealthy plantation owners.

However, Randi is the irresistible force threatening his immovable sense of what's right, of what Jackson believes is correct behavior for men and women living in the South in 1849. This entertaining battle of wills, and desire, is enhanced by the story line's historical accuracy.

--Judith Flavell


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