Almost an Angel

Another Dawn

A Matter of Trust

Some Like It Hotter

Stolen Wishes

A Willing Spirit

A Moment in Time by Deb Stover
(Zebra, $4.99, R) ISBN 0821-76620-1
Time travels are not always my drug of choice when it comes to my addiction, but being an omnivore, I have read and enjoyed more than a few of these tales that take a character back or forward in time and then watch the fun. And of course, the fun is watching a hero or heroine try to adapt to a strange world and find true love at the same time. A good time travel romance, in my opinion, needs to make the unexpected need survive in a different time and a different place an important part of the story. Unfortunately, A Moment in Time doesn’t show us much about how the heroine adapts to finding herself in Devil’s Gulch, Colorado, in the year of our Lord, 1891.

Jackie Clarke has come to a rustic cabin in the Colorado mountains with her latest flame, Blade Smith. She wakes up one morning to discover Blade is gone with her car, her credit cards, and her savings. She heads back to civilization on foot, only to get caught in a freak June snowstorm. Jackie takes shelter in a decrepit saloon in a ghost town. Above the bar is a picture of a busty woman wearing nothing but some strategically placed feathers. Jackie’s survival skills are somewhat lacking and she manages to set the place on fire. As she seeks shelter behind the bar, she watches with amazement as the picture takes on her face. When she wakes up, she’s in 1891 and the victim of a case of mistaken identity.

The owner of the saloon, Rupert Goodfellow, assumes that she is the famous saloon singer, Lolita Belle, whom he has hired to sing at his saloon. The reason for this mistake is that Jackie had died her hair bright red, just like Lolita’s. Certainly her other attributes do not match the picture she saw; she’s only a B cup. But she realizes that the picture had something to do with transporting her to the past, so when Rupert insists that she pose for said work of art, she agrees. However, while she is sitting for her “portrait,” she is kidnapped.

Her kidnapper is handsome Cole Morrison, an unsuccessful gold miner who has accepted money from a rival saloon keeper to snatch Lolita Belle. Cole is really a decent fellow, but he promised his late wife that he would take their son someplace where he could get a good education. The saloonkeeper asks Cole to hide Lolita Belle at his cabin, so Jackie and Cole are thrown together, with predictable results.

Of course, one doesn’t need to write a time travel to have the heroine mistaken for a saloon singer. I suppose that the time travel element comes into play because Jackie’s modern “sensibilities” make her seem like a loose woman. After all, she swears like a trooper, does aerobic exercises in her unmentionables and shows no maidenly reserve once she decides that Cole is one hot fellow.

Since Jackie, Cole and his young son Todd spend much of the book in an isolated cabin, there is little attention paid to her adapting to life in 1891. Well, she does object to the facilities and makes the guys refried beans, but that’s about the extent of it. Their only visitor is an old Ute Indian, known fondly as Chief Byron, whose behavior is pretty stereotypical.

My less that enthusiastic response to A Moment in Time may have something to do with my reaction to the heroine. Jackie just didn’t appeal to me; perhaps I do not like mouthy, brash characters. Cole, as a hero, didn’t really come to life. In fact, all of the characters seemed to come out of romance central casting.

A Moment in Time had some humorous moments and some steamy love scenes. But it didn’t have that extra something that makes a time travel romance special.

--Jean Mason

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